Palestinian cuisine is a treasure trove of flavors, influenced by a rich history and the region’s diverse cultural influences. Sayadieh, a classic Palestinian dish, is a testament to the culinary artistry of this land. It is a delectable combination of fish, rice, and a medley of aromatic spices that will transport your taste buds to the heart of the Middle East. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the history, ingredients, and preparation of Sayadieh, offering you a tantalizing glimpse into this beloved Palestinian dish.
The Origins of Sayadieh
Sayadieh, sometimes spelled as “sayadiyeh” or “sayadiah,” originates from the coastal regions of Palestine, where fishing is a way of life. The name itself is derived from the Arabic word “sayyad,” which means “fisherman.” This dish is a testament to the deep connection between the Palestinian people and the bounties of the Mediterranean Sea.
The Spice Mix
The seasoning for this dish can either be Middle Eastern 7 Spice along with salt, black pepper, and a little extra cinnamon. Another option is to make the seasoning from scratch by combining a teaspoon each of black pepper, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, and half a teaspoon of ground ginger. Mix well and set aside.
To prepare the rice, gather a few cups of good quality basmati rice into a bowl. Rinse several times, covering the rice with water then pouring it out until the water runs clear. Then fill the bowl with water one more time until the rice is covered and set aside to soak for 30 minutes to an hour.
To cook the rice, start by adding olive oil into a pan with high sides. Chop onions and add to the hot oil along with salt. Sauté and cook on medium high until golden. Then add two teaspoons of the seasoning mix and toast for an additional two minutes.
Add the drained rice and toast in the spiced onion mixture for one to two minutes. Cover with hot water and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Once it boils, turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Then uncover and fluff with the a large fork.
Any firm white fish fillet will work for this dish, like cod, tilapia, or sea bass. Pat the fish dry then cut the fillets evenly to make 2-3 inch pieces and place in a bowl. Sprinkle over spices and mix well to coat each fish and set aside to marinate.
When ready to cook, heat a heavy bottom pan on high and add a neutral oil. Add the fish in an even layer and cook until golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat and serve over the rice.
To really elevate this dish, top it with crunchy and buttery pine nuts. Add ghee to a small pan over medium heat and pour in pine nuts. Toast, stirring, until evenly golden, then pour over the Sayadieh. Top with freshly chopped parsley, serve warm, and enjoy!
Time: 45 minutes
For the Spice Mix
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp tumeric
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
For the Rice
- 2 cups basmati rice, washed and soaked for 30 minutes
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 tsp spice mix
- Salt to taste
- 3 cups hot water
For the Fish
- 1 lb white fish fillets like cod or tilapia, cut into even chunks
- 1 tsp spice mix
- Salt to taste
- 4 tbsp neutral oil to fry
For the Garnishes
- 1/3 cup pine nuts
- 2 tbsp ghee
- Freshly chopped parsley
- Combine the spice mix and set aside
- Melt butter in a pan with high sides on medium heat. Add onions and salt and cook until golden brown. Add spices and toast for 2 minutes
- Add soaked and drained rice. Toast for an additional two minutes, then add water and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Fluff rice once cooked
- Add fish to a bowl and sprinkle over 2 tsp spice mix along with salt to taste. Mix well to coat the fish evenly
- Place a pan on high heat and add oil. Once smoking, add fish in an even layer and fry until til golden brown on both sides. Place fish over cooked rice
- In a small pan, add ghee and pine nuts and toast on medium heat until golden brown. Pour over the dish along with a sprinkling of fresh chopped parsley . Serve warm and enjoy
Sayadieh is more than just a meal; it’s a celebration of Palestinian culture and the bounties of the Mediterranean Sea. The fusion of spices, caramelized onions, and fresh fish creates a symphony of flavors that is nothing short of a culinary masterpiece. When you savor a plate of Sayadieh, you’re taking a journey through history and tradition, connecting with the heart and soul of Palestine. So, why not try your hand at making this beloved Palestinian dish in your own kitchen and experience a taste of the Middle East like never before? Sayadieh will undoubtedly leave you craving for more.