Lebanese fish kibbe (kibbet samak)

Kibbeh, the national dish of Lebanon is a mix of ground lamb and bulgur, and can be made grilled, boiled or fried.   There are many variations including this fish version kibbet samak.

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olive oil, to oil dish

for the filling
250g onions, peeled and thinly sliced
60g pine nuts
75ml extra virgin olive oil                    

sea salt
1/4 tsp finely ground white pepper

for the kibbe
100g coriander sprigs, most of the stalk removed, 600g red bream fillets, skinned
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
grated zest of 1/2 orange or lemon (preferably unwaxed)
150g fine bulgurl, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp finely ground white pepper



Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6. Oil a round baking dish, about 29cm in diameter, with a little olive oil.


For the filling, put the sliced onions, pine nuts and olive oil in a bowl. Season with the pepper and salt and mix well. Set aside.


For the kibbe, put the coriander in a food processor, together with the fish, onion and orange zest. Process until quite smooth, then transfer to a bowl. Add the burghul, cinnamon, pepper and salt to taste. Mix with your hand until evenly combined.


Have a bowl of lightly salted water on  hand as you shape the fish cake. Divide the kibbe in half and set aside one half (for the top). Moisten your hands with water and pinch off a handful of kibbe from the other portion. Flatten between your palms to a I cm thickness and place in the baking dish, next to one edge. Smooth it down evenly with your fingers.


Pinch off more kibbe, flatten and lay next to the first piece, slightly overlapping it. Dip your fingers in water and smooth the pieces together until the joint disappears. Continue until you've covered the bottom of the dish, then moisten your fingers again and smooth into an even layer.


Spread the stuffing evenly over the kibbe and cover with the remaining fish mixture, following the same method as before (it will be slightly more difficult to spread).


Cut the pie into quarters, then mark a pattern across the top of each quarter with a knife for a decorative finish, if you like. Make a hole in the centre with your finger and, finally, drizzle olive oil all over the top of the kibbe. Bake for 15 minutes, or until cooked to your liking. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.




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