Fish kibbeh - kibbit samak

You may all be familiar with kibbeh, one of the most venerated dishes of the Levant, and sometimes considered the national dish of Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Iraq. Generally, kibbeh is most commonly defined as a mixture of bulgur and ground meat usually in meatball-form. However, there are a variety of dishes under the name of “kibbeh”. Aleppo alone is famous for having more than 17 different types of kibbeh. There are several popular vegetarian versions made with potatoes, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, etc, with plenty of onions for flavor.

There are a hundred and one way of preparing kibbeh; but the most common form of kibbeh uses meat in both parts: a meatball with an outer layer of ground meat and bulgur and an inner stuffing of ground meat and pine nuts. However, kibbeh can be shaped into balls, either grilled or fried, it can be cooked in yoghurt sauce, or tahini sauce. It can also be served raw, yes raw, and it’s called kibbeh nayyeh, raw beef and bulgur pounded together, like a Lebanese tartar, frequently served as part of a mezze in Lebanon, garnished with mint leaves and olive oil, and served raw with green peppers, scallions and pita.

Well, there are so many ways to prepare kibbeh, but today I will introduce the fish kibbeh, or kibbit samak. This recipe hails from Tripoli, on Lebanon’s coast, and it’s made from ground fish and bulgur then stuffed or garnished with caramelized onions and pine nuts.

Ingredients (serves 4):

For the base:
2/3 cup (160g) fine ground bulgur
1 onion, cut into quarters
1 lb (500g) fish fillets
½ bunch fresh coriander, chopped
grated zest of ½ orange or lemon
1 tsp salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon finely ground white pepper

For the topping:
1 lb (500g) onions, sliced
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup (50g) pine nuts
Salt, to taste
¼ teaspoon finely ground white pepper
a pinch of tumeric

For the base:

Soak the bulgur with water 10 minutes. Drain well.

Put the coriander in a blender or food processor together with the fish, quartered onion, orange or lemon zest, cinnamon, pepper and salt. Process the ingredients together then add the drained bulgur and blend again in order to get a smooth mixture

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180ºC) and grease a medium baking dish with a little olive oil. Then press the paste into the bottom of the dish with your hands.

With a pointed knife, cut the kibbeh into 6 wedges through the center. Dribble a little olive oil over the top and bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or until cooked.

For the topping:

Heat some olive oil in a skillet and saute the onions until golden brown, stirring often.
Add the pine nuts and fry until lightly golden.
Season with salt white pepper and tumeric.
Spread the onion mixture oven the baked kibbeh and serve!

Kibbeh de poisson

Ingrédients (4 personnes):

Pour la base:
160 g de boulghour fin
1 oignon, coupé en quarts
500 g de filets de poisson (Cabillaud)
½ botte de coriandre, hachée
zeste d' ½ orange ou citron
1 càc de sel
poivre noir moulu, selon goût
½ càc de cannelle
¼ càc de poivre blanc

Pour la garniture:
500 g d'oignons émincés
3 càs d'huile d'olive extra vierge
50 g de pignons de pin
Sel selon goût
¼ càc de poivre blanc
une pincée de curcuma

Pour la base:

Faites tremper le bourghoul dans de l'eau pendant 10 minutes. Bien égoutter.

Dans un robot, mixez la coriandre avec les filets de poisson, l'oignon, le zeste de citron ou d'orange, la cannelle, le poivre et le sel. Ajouter le bourgoul égoutté et mixez de nouveau afin d'obtenir une pâte homogène.

Préchauffez le four à 180ºC et huilez un plat rond allant au four. Presser la pâte dans le moule avec les mains et lissez la surface.

A l'aide d'un couteau pointu, coupez le kibbeh en 6 tranches égales (comme pour une tarte). Versez un peu d'huile par dessus et enfourner 30 à 40 mn jusqu'à ce qu'il soit doré.

Pour la garniture:

Faites chauffer de l'huile d'olive dans une poêle et faites revenir les oignons tout en remuant de temps en temps.
Ajoutez les pignons de pin et continuez à les faire revenir jusqu'à coloration.
Salez, poivrez et ajoutez le curcuma et le poivre blanc.
Étalez la garniture sur le dessus du kibbeh et servez.


  1. These sound absolutely mouth watering! What a great idea for a recipe :-)

  2. This sounds intriguing (and pretty damn tasty). I love the food of the Levant but haven't really explored the fishy side of it much. Something that I, having read the post above, definitely need to remedy. I wonder what it would taste like with smoked fish?

  3. This fish kibbeh is fantastic! I'll have to try this version.



  4. Great photo on your kibbeh and I love fish kibbeh! In fact my daughter told me in no uncertain term, it is her absolute favorite (such delicate flavor)

  5. Belle introduction et très appétissante Kibbeh ! Et j'aime l'idée du curcuma pour avoir cette surface jaune.

  6. Yummy kibbeh, although I never really made it with fish. Superb idea Cherine!

  7. Your blog is amazing!!! I love all of your images!

  8. I love fish kibbeh. Your pics look amazing. I like the quiche like presentation/shape. Kibbeh is an ultra popular dish in my homeland Brazil. It was brought by the Lebanese migrants down there and and it is a sensation!

  9. thanks for sharing that beautiful recipe !! I love lebanese food but I didn't know fish kebbeh...

  10. What a cool idea - never thought of kibbeh as anything beyond 'meat.' I love fish, and really looking forward to trying this! :)

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