• Barramundi, cumin and coriander sayadieh (China Squirrel)

The best parts about sayadieh, the classic Lebanese fish and rice dish, are the caramelised onions and aromatic fish stock used to cook the rice. 






Skill level

Average: 3.9 (104 votes)


Fish stock

  • 1 fish head (see Note) barramundi
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp baharat (Lebanese seven spice) (see Note)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 litres water 


Fish and rice

  • 100-200 ml olive oil
  • 2 barramundi fillets
  • 3 large onions, sliced into thin rings
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed and soaked
  • 100 g slivered almonds
  • 100 g pine nuts
  • 1 tsp ghee 



  • 60 ml (¼ cup) white vinegar
  • ½ tsp freshly ground coriander seed
  • ½ tsp freshly groundcumin seed
  • ½ bunch finely chopped coriander
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pinch salt

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


For the fish stock, place all of the ingredients in a saucepan, bring the the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

For the fish and rice, generously oil a large deep-sided frying pan with the oil and place over high heat. Lightly season the fish with salt and pepper, add to the pan and cook until crispy on both side. Remove from the pan, leaving the oil in the pan, and drain and paper towel.

Reduce the heat to medium, return the same pan to the heat, add the onion and cook until caramelised. Remove, leaving the oil in the pan and set aside.

Add 1½ cups of the stock, the cumin and coriander to the pan over medium heat. Add the rice and cook, covered, for 20 minutes, then remove from the heat, and allow to steam.

Heat the ghee in a frying pan over medium heat, add the nuts and toast until golden.

For the sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl.

To assemble, place the on a serving platter, layer over the caramelised onion, then break the fish into large pieces and place on top. Top with the nuts, serve with the sauce on the side.


Cook's notes

• I used a whole barramundi for this recipe, using the head for the stock, and the fillets in the rice.

• Baharat (Lebanese seven spice) is available from Middle Eastern grocers.


This recipe is from The Chefs' Line - a brand new series airing weeknights at 6pm on SBS. Can the passion of a home cook beat the skills of a professional chef? Missed all the action? Catch-up online and get all the recipes #TheChefsLine.

This recipe has been edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the series.