Samkeh Harrah

Just as I was thinking about how lame my dinner plans for this week were, my friend Rayna came to the rescue. “Do you want to try another Lebanese dish? Have you ever had Samkeh Harrah?’

No, I had not. In fact, I had never even heard of Samkeh Harrah, but I was immediately off to Google to learn about it.

Not only does this dish have a recommendation from a trusted source, but it sounds tasty, reasonably healthy, and we happen to own all of the ingredients commonly found in Samkeh Harrah recipes! Win!

What I learned from my research is that there are many varieties of Samkeh Harrah. Some versions include fish, usually red snapper, that has been stuffed and then fried whole. Other recipes more closely resemble a stew with vegetables, a sauce, and shredded fish mixed in.

Because of my aversion to fish heads (Fish with heads look too much like creatures that may have been happily living and swimming along at one point.) and because of Duke’s House Budget (Remember the 4 lbs. of tilapia I got on sale a few weeks ago?) I have opted to go with the stew variety.

I’m not sure what type of Samkeh Harrah Rayna made, but it might be fun to get her recipe and try it out for comparison sometime. I can’t picture her stuffing a fish, head and all, but she always surprises me.

This recipe is cobbled together based on the ingredients and proportions of many other recipes, then adjusted to scale back the fat and calorie content, i.e. less tahini than recommended.


  • 24 oz fried or grilled fish (red snapper is recommended, but I used tilapia) flaked
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped coriander
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbps coriander
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground chili (red pepper)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • lemon wedges, toasted pine nuts, and parsley for garnish


  • Bake fish in a lightly greased dish at 375 degrees until the fish easily flakes with a fork. (My tilapia took about 10 minutes.)
  • Saute the onion and bell pepper until the pepper softens and the onion turns translucent.
  • Stir in spices, salt and ground almonds.
  • Pour sesame paste sauce over the mixture, stir constantly on medium heat until the mixture thickens.
  • Pour mixture in serving platter over the flaked fish. 
  • Garnish with lemon wedges, toasted pine nuts and some chopped parsley.

Servings ~ 6
Calories ~ 237, Fat ~ 13 g, Carbohydrates ~ 7 g, Protein ~ 26 g

  1. shelby said:

    I had this in Beirut last summer! And it was delicious but I’m with you on the fish heads – it was hard for me to dig into it, with it staring at me.

    • Brit said:

      You have been everywhere! I can’t imagine what would have brought you to Beirut, but that’s awesome! I haven’t been to the Middle East yet, unless Turkey counts, it is kind of borderline. Someday I would love to go!

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