Sayadieh

5 from 167 votes

This authentic Sayadieh recipe is also known as Lebanese Rice and Fish - made with perfectly seasoned fluffy rice & pan fried fish, topped with toasted nuts

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Another classic Lebanese dish I grew up eating is called Sayadieh, which is basically a Middle Eastern fish and rice dish. This classic family favorite recipe that is full of warm Mediterranean spices, sweet caramelized onions and perfectly cooked pieces of fish. It’s a unique recipe but made with easily accessible ingredients!

Lebanese rice and fish recipe - also known as sayadieh served on a platter with toasted almonds

RECIPE VIDEO TUTORIAL

How do you make Sayadieh

  1. Chop 3-4 large onions and transfer to a large skillet or deep pot.
  2. Lightly caramelize the onions with olive oil until the color is lightly golden brown, but be careful not to over brown them.
  3. Add the rinsed rice on top of the caramelized onions, along with the spices.
  4. Stir everything together while the heat is still on in order to toast the rice with the spices.
  5. Add double the liquid amount to the rice amount and bring mixture to a boil.
  6. Simmer on low and cook until the rice is tender. Be sure to fluff the rice after letting it rest.
Step by step process shots for how to make the rice in a large pot

While the rice is cooking, you can prepare the fish that is an essential part of the sayadieh recipe. This part of the recipe can be adapted to suit your cooking preference for the fish. Traditionally, you would bread the fish with flour and deep fry it to serve it on top.

Seasoning cod fillet with salt and pepper before frying

However, we grew up either lightly pan searing the fish or baking the fish when making sayadieh. Make sure to use white flaky fish like cod, snapper or halibut for best results. Then you can serve the fish whole on top of the rice or cut it up into chunks and mixed in with the cooked rice.

Tips for making sayadieh

  1. Use long grain rice.  Compared to short grain rice, long grain rice, like basmati, has a more firm texture and less starch. That means the final sayadieh result will yield rice that’s tender without being as sticky.
  2. Give the rice time to steam after cooking it. This is my rule of thumb whenever I cook rice. I always turn the timer on for 5-10 minutes (depending on the quantity of rice I make) and allow the rice to steam in the pot to absorb any extra liquid. It helps to let the grains separate to yield a more fluffy consistency.
  3. Serve the sayadieh with tahini sauce. While there is so much flavor in the spiced rice and cooked fish, we love to add a lemony tahini dressing on the side to drizzle over every bite.

Frequently asked questions

What type of rice is best to use?

I recommend using long grain white basmati rice for best results. However, if you want to use brown rice, be sure to add an extra 30 minutes of cooking time to the recipe since brown rice needs more time to become tender.

What type of fish is best to use?

While you can really make sayadieh with any type of fish, it’s most common to pick. white flaky fish like cod, halibut, haddock or snapper.

One plate serving of sayadieh - lebanese rice and fish served with tahini sauce to pour on top

For more rice recipes:

If you’re looking for new rice dishes to try out, this is a very approachable recipe that’s very well balanced between the rice and fish. It’s a family favorite that we make a few times a year. Just get ready to chop a lot of onions!

If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Sayadieh recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!

Sayadieh

This authentic Sayadieh recipe is also known as Lebanese Rice and Fish – made with perfectly seasoned fluffy rice & pan fried fish, topped with toasted nuts
5 from 167 votes
Servings 8 servings
Course Entree
Calories 359
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 55 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 3-4 onions chopped
  • 2 cups basmati white rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt plus more for fish
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper plus more for fish
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 ½ pounds cod fish fillets
  • ½ cup silvered toasted almonds for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley for serving

Instructions

  • In a large deep skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat and fry the chopped onions until lightly golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.
  • Rinse the rice, then transfer to the pot of onions. Season with salt, pepper, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon and ginger. Toss well to combine and toast the rice lightly with the spices, about 5 minutes.
  • Add 4 cups water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook covered until the rice is tender, about 18 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat. Allow the rice to rest in the pot for about 5 minutes, without opening the lid, to absorb all the liquid and steam.
  • While the rice is cooking, season the fish with salt and pepper on both sides. Fry on a skillet with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, working in two batches to avoid over-crowding the skillet.
  • Serve the cooked fish broken up in chunks or whole on top of the rice mixture. Add toasted almond and parsley on top.

Video

Notes

Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last about 3-4 days in the fridge.
Freezing Instructions: You can freeze the sayadieh for up to 3 months. To re-heat, thaw in the fridge overnight and microwave until heated through.
Make Ahead Tips: You can chop the onions in advance up to a day before and even caramelize the onions beforehand in order to reduce the prep time.

Nutrition

Calories: 359kcal, Carbohydrates: 43g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 37mg, Sodium: 488mg, Potassium: 521mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 118IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 53mg, Iron: 1mg

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

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Lebanese rice and fish recipe - also known as sayadieh served on a platter with toasted almonds

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Comments

  1. Awesome recipe thank you for sharing! My rice was a little wetter than I like. Should I just cut back the water? I even let it cook 20 minutes with a 5 minute rest time. Maybe removing the cover while it sets might work?

    1. Thank you so much! I always turn the timer on for 5-10 minutes (depending on the quantity of rice I make) and allow the rice to steam in the pot to absorb any extra liquid. It helps to let the grains separate to yield a more fluffy consistency.

      1. Thank you for your reply Yumna! The recipe was really easy and tasted so delicious! Everybody agreed! Thanks again for sharing! Will definitely be using your recipe again soon, with halibut!

  2. Oh my goodness, this is such a delicious recipe! My husband I tried it this weekend and this was easy to make.

  3. Had some cod in refrigerator and didn’t know how to prepare it. I came to your website and found this awesome recipe, of course! I couldnt believe how easy it was, so delicious and flavorful, my husband said it taste just like Moroccan bstilla! I blanched and fried the almonds. I will definitely be making again, just like all your recipes I try 🙂🙂 thanks Yumna! 💜💜

      1. I just finished cooking this dish and serving it to my family. It was an instant hit and my kids have already asked me to make it again. And it was just so easy to make. I didn’t have cod, so I used talupa. I suspect this dish might taste amazing with anything. My wife almost died when our youngest got up from the table and said “Thank you daddy, that was yum”. She normally doesn’t like fish, but went back for seconds…and has probably never said “thank you” once in her life.

  4. hi there–can you gv a bit more instruction on the fish. I used Haddock and put salt and pepper on the fish then fried in a pan for about 4 min on each side but it fell apart and my husband said it was bland ? thanks, Linda

    1. Hi Linda, sure thing! I usually keep it very simple because I mix it in with the rice afterwards. But if you’d like more flavoring, I recommend coating the fish in all-purpose flour after seasoning with salt and pepper. That will help it hold well together and the breading gives it really good flavor. It’s more traditional to even deep fry the fish if you’d like! Hope that works 🙂

  5. I had been craving sayadieh for a long time but always had the impression that it was a difficult recipe. Thanks to Yumna and this awesome recipe I made it and it tasted delicious. Extra points because my 2 picky eaters enjoyed it. This will become a staple in my house.
    Thanks Yumna. I’m an avid follower of yours and enjoy trying out your recipes.

    1. I’m so glad you finally made it and that you all loved it! Thank you so much!! Hope you continue to enjoy the recipes.

  6. Made this last Sunday, I was looking for something different and came across this recipe on your Instagram. I didn’t know this dish, but since my family and I appreciate middle eastern food, decided to try! OMG it’s sooo good!!! Simple yet different from our everyday food. Loved it! Definitely doing again soon. Thank you Yumna 🙌🙌😘😘

    1. Aww I’m so glad you experimented with something new and enjoyed this recipe! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave feedback 🙂

  7. Made this last night – very tasty.
    a few (hopefully constructive) comments
    1. 2 cups of rice doesn’t seem much for 8 people – I used 2 cups for 4 of us, expecting some leftovers, but it all got eaten. I’d normally use 1 cup of rice per 2 portions.
    2. The web site allows you to change the number of portions and that automatically changes the quantity of ingredients required, but it doesn’t update the narrative, so, for example, however much rice you need, the narrative always shows “add 4 cups of water” – might catch someone out.
    3. 18 minutes seems a long time to cook the rice, though I guess that depends on the age ?
    Mine was perfectly cooked after 12 mins (plus 5 mins resting time)
    4. The Tahini sauce was a definite must. Really lifted the dish 🙂

    1. Hi there! Thanks so much for your feedback! Normally 1 cup of rice is 4 servings according to the ingredient labels for rice. So I just use that as the metric for all my rice dishes. Adding in the fish makes it a fuller meal. Good note about the portion change and the narrative instructions, I will update that! And I cook most of the rice 15-18 minutes for the texture I like, but I think 12 minutes sounds good too! Glad you liked the tahini!

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