Samke Harra (Spicy Fish)

5 from 2 votes

Samke harra (spicy fish) is a delicious Lebanese dish of oven-baked seasoned cod drizzled with tahini sauce.

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Growing up with Lebanese roots, Samke Harra was a vibrant dish that my mom made especially when we had guests. It’s a spicy (hence the “harra” which means spicy in Arabic”, flavor-packed fish and reminds me of home. The blend of spices like cumin and cayenne on the cod fillets smothered in the tahini sauce will have you hooked! It’s straightforward yet so good.

Samke harra with tahini sauce, toasted pine nuts, and chopped parsley in a baking dish with a spatula removing a portion.
Want to save this recipe?
Just type your email below and I’ll send it to you. And as a bonus you’ll get delicious new recipes from me!

In every Lebanese kitchen, tahini sauce is a staple, and in Samke Harra, it’s what brings the whole dish together. It’s a simple mix: tahini for smoothness, lemon for zest, and garlic for kick. And the finishing touches are just as important to the Samke Harra as the sauce – the pine nuts toasted to a golden brown for a nutty crunch, and the parsley, fresh and green, scattered on top. There are many version of Samke Harra, but this simple one is my favorite.

Recipe At a Glance

Cuisine Inspiration: Lebanese
Primary Cooking Method: Oven
Dietary Info: Dairy-free, gluten-free
Key Flavor: Savory, fishy, and nutty
Skill Level: Easy

Ingredients to Make Samkeh Harra

Ingredients for recipe: Cod fish fillets, tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic cloves, water, salt, cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper, olive oil, pine nuts, fresh parsley.
  • Cod fish fillets: Cod is a white fish with a mild flavor and flakey texture. It’s a great fish to use in this Lebanese Samke Harra recipe as it absorbs the flavors of the seasoning and sauce well while remaining tender and moist.
  • Fish seasonings: Cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper add depth, warmth, and a hint of spice to the dish. Together, they create a deliciously seasoned base for the tahini sauce.
  • Olive oil: Used to coat the fish and helps to lock in moisture while baking.
  • Tahini paste: Made from ground sesame seeds, tahini paste provides a nutty creaminess that balances the tangy lemon juice and garlic in the sauce well.
  • Lemon: Adds a great acidity and brightness to the sauce.
  • Garlic: Minced garlic adds a nice savory flavor and complexity to the tahini sauce.
  • Pine nuts: For a tasty finishing touch, toasted pine nuts add a crunchy texture and nutty flavor. For all the tips and tricks, check out my post on how to toast pine nuts.
  • Parsley: Chopped parsley adds an herby brightness and a fresh pop of color that cuts through the richness of the tahini sauce and the fish.
  • Try another fish. I suggest swapping cod fillets with another white fish such as haddock, or halibut. If you’re really adventurous, use a whole fish instead of fillets.
  • Top with other nuts or seeds. Swap the pine nuts with slivered almonds and chopped walnuts. If you want to avoid nuts altogether, use toasted sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds.
  • Add caramelized onions. For a touch of sweetness and depth of flavor, top the Samak Harra fish with caramelized onions. Their rich, savory taste pairs well with the nuttiness of the tahini sauce and the tender fish.
  • Include other toppings. Olives, fresh diced tomatoes, and even pomegranate seeds sprinkled over the finished dish serve as refreshing toppings, adding a different texture and flavor.
  • Garnish with freshness. Chopped parsley is a classic choice, but you could also garnish with chopped green onions, basil, fresh cilantro, or even lemon zest to enhance that bright citrus flavor. Some will even add tabbouleh salad right on top of the fish after it bakes.

How to Make Samkeh Harra

This spicy fish is so flavorful yet so easy to make. The hands-off method of baking the fish in the oven frees up time for you to make any sides without worrying about another pan on the stove.

Bake the Fish

  1. Place the cod fillets in an oven-safe baking dish. Use paper towels to pat the fish dry.
  2. Season the fish with cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper on both sides.
  3. Drizzle with the olive oil and rub the oil and seasonings all over the fish on both sides with your hands.
  4. Bake the fish until it flakes easily with a fork.
4-image collage preparing the fish: 1 - Cod fillets in a baking dish with paper towels patting them dry; 2 - After seasoning with cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper on both sides; 3 - After coating with oil; 4 - After baking.

Make the Tahini Sauce

  1. Pour tahini paste into a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, garlic, and salt.
  2. Combine the ingredients with a fork or whisk until it forms a thick sauce. Slowly add water to the mixture and whisk until completely combined and smooth.
2-image collage making the tahini sauce: 1 - Tahini paste in a small bowl with lemon juice, garlic, and salt before mixing; 2 - After combined with water.

Tips for Making the Best Lebanese Spicy Fish

  1. Toast pine nuts for maximum flavor. During the last 5 minutes of the fish cooking, place the pine nuts in a small baking dish and pop it in the oven to toast until browned.
  2. Don’t rush making the tahini sauce. The sauce should be smooth and pourable but not too thin. Add the water slowly, whisking constantly, to achieve the right texture. You can also use a blender to make the sauce.
  3. Avoid overcooking the fish. Bake the fish just until it flakes easily with a fork, which typically takes 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets. Overcooked fish can result in dry, rubbery fish, so keep a close eye on it.
  4. Don’t forget the finishing touches. When the fish is done cooking, drizzle the tahini sauce over the fish and scatter the pine nuts and chopped parsley on top.
Fish in baking dish with tahini sauce poured over it.

What to Serve With Lebanese Spicy Fish

How to Store & Reheat Samkeh Harra

Transfer any leftover Samkeh Harra along with the tahini sauce to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. If possible, keep the pine nuts separate to maintain their crunchiness.

When ready to enjoy again, heat it in the microwave until warmed through. You can also reheat it in an oven, loosely covered with aluminum foil, to prevent drying it out. Reheat in a preheated oven for 5-10 minutes or until heated through.

How Long Will Samkeh Harra Last in the Fridge?

When properly stored, Samak Harra fish will last in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Can I Freeze Lebanese Spicy Fish?

While it’s possible to freeze Samkeh Harra, I don’t recommend it, as the texture and flavor will change upon thawing. The tahini sauce may separate or become grainy, and the fish may become mushy when reheated. It’s best to make this Samkeh Harra recipe fresh.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use frozen fish for this recipe?

Yes! This recipe is great if you forgot to pull out the fish from the freezer to defrost. Follow the steps I share in this post on how to cook frozen fish for thawing and season with the seasonings in this Samkeh Harra recipe. Then, transfer the fish to a serving platter, cover it with the tahini sauce, garnish, and serve.

How can I adjust the thickness of the tahini sauce?

If the tahini sauce becomes too thick, simply whisk in a little more water until it reaches your desired consistency. Add gradually to prevent adding too much water, which could make it too thin.

Can I make this dish in advance?

Baked fish is best made fresh and eaten hot, as reheating can overcook the fish. However, the tahini sauce keeps very well in the refrigerator. You can make that a week in advance and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to bake the fish.

A serving of samke harra on a small plate over Lebanese rice with pine nuts and parsley on top.

Samke Harra is a classic Lebanese dish that will impress your family and friends and make your taste buds happy with its rich, spicy, nutty flavors. This no-fuss recipe yields the perfect blend of tender fish, creamy tahini sauce, and crunchy garnish.

More Fish Recipes:

If you try this feel good Samke Harra recipe or any other recipe on Feel Good Foodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! It helps others who are thinking of making the recipe. We would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots, share it on Instagram so we can repost on Stories!

order MY book

The Feel Good Foodie Cookbook is now available everywhere books are sold!

Samke Harra (Spicy Fish)

Samke harra (spicy fish) is a delicious Lebanese dish of oven-baked seasoned cod drizzled with tahini sauce.
5 from 2 votes
Servings 8 servings
Course Entree
Calories 270
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Email This Recipe
Enter your email and I’ll send this directly to you. Plus you’ll get new recipes from me every week!

Ingredients
  

Tahini Sauce

  • ½ cup tahini paste
  • cup lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves grated
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup water

Fish & Toppings

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  • Place the cod fillets in an 8×11 oven-safe baking dish. Use paper towels to pat the fish dry, then season with cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper on both sides. Drizzle with the olive oil and use your hands to rub the oil and seasoning all over the fish on both sides. Bake the fish until it flakes off easily with a fork, 10-15 minutes.
  • During the last 5 minutes of cooking time, place the pine nuts in a small baking dish and toast in the oven until browned.
  • Meanwhile, place the tahini paste in a small bowl. Add the lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Use a fork or whisk to combine the ingredients until they form a thick paste. Slowly add water to the mixture and whisk until completely combined, smooth with a pourable texture.
  • When the fish is done cooking, drizzle the tahini sauce all over. Scatter the pine nuts and chopped parsley on top and serve immediately.

Notes

For best results, serve with my Lebanese Rice.
Storage: Leftover Samkeh Harra can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. If possible, keep the pine nuts separate to maintain crunchiness. To reheat, warm it in the microwave until heated through.
Tips:
Toast pine nuts for maximum flavor. During the last 5 minutes of the fish cooking, place the pine nuts in a small baking dish and pop it in the oven to toast until browned.
Go low and slow when making the tahini sauce. The sauce should be smooth and pourable but not too thin. Add the water slowly, whisking constantly, to achieve the right texture.
Avoid overcooking the fish. Bake the fish just until it flakes easily with a fork, which typically takes 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets. Overcooked fish can result in dry, rubbery fish so keep a close eye on it.
Don’t forget the finishing touches. When the fish is done cooking, drizzle the tahini sauce over the fish and scatter the pine nuts and chopped parsley on top. 

Nutrition

Serving: 2cups, Calories: 270kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 29g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 61mg, Sodium: 447mg, Potassium: 708mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 0.4g, Vitamin A: 183IU, Vitamin C: 8mg, Calcium: 52mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine Lebanese
Course: Entree

Rate and comment

Recipe Rating