Our Associate Publicist Jillian reviews the Sea Bass With Spiced Caramelized Onion Rice’s recipe, taken from Bethany Kehdy’s The Jewelled Kitchen. This fragrant dish called seeyadeeyeh is a family favourite. It was handed down to Bethany’s Aunt Amale by her grandmother, finally making its way into Bethany’s repertoire. The author’s grandmother grew up along the coast of Batroun where her family’s picturesque restaurant, Jammal, still stands overlooking the water grottos where she once swam. This recipe is a homage to her sea-loving soul.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
whole sea bass, about 500g/1lb 2oz, cleaned and scaled
120ml/4 floz/½ cup sunflower oil
4 onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
200g/7oz/1 cup medium-grain rice
2 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp finely chopped parsley leaves (optional)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
lemon wedges, to serve
Tarator (see page 220), to serve
- Cut off the fish head and season it with salt. Set aside the remaining fish. Heat the sunflower oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. When the oil begins to sizzle, add the fish head and fry for about 5 minutes on each side. Remove the fish head and set aside.
- Add the onions to the pan and fry for about 5 minutes until golden, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and transfer the onions to a plate lined with paper towels. Spread three-quarters of the drained onions evenly across the base of a heavy-based saucepan. Place the pan over a low heat, add the fish head and cover with 500ml/17fl oz/ generous 2 cups water. Add the cumin, cinnamon and allspice, and season to taste with salt. Cover, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to the boil, then remove the fish head and reserve.
- Add the rice to the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for about 30 minutes or until the rice is tender and the water has been absorbed.
- Preheat the oven to 200˚C/400˚F/Gas 6. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat for 1–2 minutes until golden and fragrant, shaking the pan often.
- Put the uncooked fish in a baking dish, season to taste with salt and pepper and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when pushed with a fork. Divide the fish into four equal portions.
- Transfer the cooked rice to a dish, stand the fish head in the centre, if you like, and arrange the fish portions on top of the rice. Add the remaining caramelized onions and the toasted pine nuts to the dish.
- Sprinkle with parsley and serve the dish with the lemon wedges and Tarator.
Our Associate Publicist Jillian reviews this delicious recipe:
In my excitement at this week’s publication of The Jewelled Kitchen, I wanted to celebrate by making one of Bethany’s delightful dishes for a dinner party.
To complement the hot summer weather in London right now I decided to go for something light and fresh, and this fish dish felt the like perfect match. I especially liked that Bethany describes it as an ‘homage to her [grandmother’s] sea-loving soul’- thoughts of the sea, breezy and refreshing, felt like the right thing to channel on a sticky summer night!
Unfortunately I was unable to source a whole sea bass at my local Co-Op across from the tube station, so I settled for salmon instead, and made it alongside the moreish caramelized onion rice.
The rice took no time to cook, and was easily made at the same time as the fish. While both were cooking away I got to work on caramelizing the onions and toasting the pine nuts. The two ingredients go together perfectly- the nuts all toasty with their depth of flavour, and the onions sweet and rich. The golden brown colour that both reach when cooked match each other perfectly in this sumptuous dish. I mixed the onions and pine nuts into the rice, and sprinkled with chopped parsley to add a pop of freshness and colour to the dish, and the colours and flavours mingled beautifully- deep brown and bright green, and rich flavours offset by bursts of brightness.
I served the rice alongside my salmon substitute, as well as some asparagus sautéed in butter, garlic, and lemon. With a glass of crisp white wine on the side, this made for a delectable summer soiree meal.
The Jewelled Kitchen
£14.99, available from Nourish Books