Brown Sayadieh – Fish and Rice Casserole

  • Servings: 4

This is a classic Lebanese dish, prepared mainly with fish and rice.

The recipe calls for whole white fish, but you can substitute with fish fillets and ready made fish stock.

For the simpler family version you can omit the toppings of toasted pine nuts and almonds and the decoration of fried pieces of flat bread (see photos of the two versions)



  • 2 whole sea bass or sea bream or any other white fish, gutted and scaled
  • 1 1/2 cup of white rice
  • 3 large onions, finely chopped
  • 3 or 4 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 big handful of pine nuts and another of slivered almonds (optional)
  • 1 tsp of turmeric and/or few threads of saffron
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin + 1/2 tsp of allspice
  • 1/2 tsp of white pepper + 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cups of water
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt, to taste


Step 1

To make the stock, cut the heads of the fish and put them in a pot with 3 cups of water, the salt and all the spices and let them boil for about 40 minutes. Remove the heads from the stock then add the rest of the fish, cut in 2 pieces each and the lemon juice. Cook for few minutes (it doesn't take long to cook the fish!) then remove, get rid of the skins and bones and put aside.

Step 2

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, on high heat, and fry the chopped onions until they become brown (not black!). This will give the nice colour and taste to the rice. If you are using pine nuts and almonds, fry them first, until they are slightly golden then remove from the oil and put aside.

Step 3

Put the rice and the fried onions with their oil in the fish stock (usually 1 cup of rice needs 2 cups of liquid to cook). When the stock starts boiling, reduce the heat and cook slowly, without stirring, until the rice is ready and the stock has been absorbed.

Step 4

Break the fish into smaller pieces and place them on top of the rice with the toasted pine nuts and almonds (if available) and decorate with some fried pieces of flat bread. Serve with a side dish of vegetable or salad.

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