209 x AllergicFoodLover: Hassle-Free Samke Harra
I think the first time I had Lebanese food, actual Lebanese food other than hummus and baba ghanoush was when I was 18 years old, that is the first time I came to Lebanon.
I still remember that day as if it was yesterday, those butterflies fluttering in your stomach as the plane is getting closer to the ocean as you see this mixture of skyscrapers and stone houses. Then you have that wall of people holding balloons and roses at the arrival waiting to welcome their missed family members or the taxis parked in double and triple line. I never had anyone teach me Lebanese cooking, then with the development of my food allergies whatever motivation my aunts may have had, somewhat vanished and my father is not a cook, he is a taster.
The first time I had 'samke harra' was up in the mountains, Baabdat to be precise, with my father and my Swedish family who had come to visit. I had eaten the sauce at a ratio of 10 spoons per tiny piece of fish, naturally, that had meant asking for second servings of sauce. It was packed with flavors, delicious and addictive. This lunch was also the first time I had arak, and no thankfully, no embarrassing moment followed that tasting.
I suppose, like many recipes, it varies from region to region, although I believe it originates from Tripoli, for sure not the mountains! The more authentic version will use harissa, however, I did not have any on hand. I would call this version a more easy-going, little to no hassle recipe.
Recipe for Hassle-Free Samke Harra
1 fish of your choice, I used arctic char.
200ml of tahini
2 tbsp spicy sauce, you can use harissa, I used Feryal's spicy tomato
A couple of drops of your white wine, I used Chateau Khoury.
For garnish: olives, crushed nuts, and parsley.
Turn the oven to 175°
Rinse the fish, salt it and bake for 15min to 20min.
While the fish is being baked, take out a bowl, add the tahini, the lemon juice. You will see that the sauce does get thicker but that's normal, keep mixing. Add 25ml of white wine and mix. Then the spicy sauce of your choice. Taste. I like the sauce slightly more liquid, if you prefer thicker then add more tahini.
Once the fish is ready, transfer it to a slightly deep dish and pour over the tahini mixture on top. Garnish with your favorite nut toppings, I used the olive makdous from Feryal as it has both the crunch and additional spice complexity.
Pair it with a glass of cold white wine, for this meal, we chose the bottle of Chateau Khoury Rêve Blanc 2018. The chardonnay and riesling soften the spiciness of the fish.