• Snapper sayadieh with leek (China Squirrel)Source: China Squirrel

This is a traditional Lebanese fish and rice dish. One of the key elements of this dish is the rice, which needs to be cooked in an aromatic stock – saffron and cumin are the main spices. 






Skill level

Average: 4.4 (14 votes)


Sayadieh rice

  • 150 g pilaf rice
  • 35 g unsalted butter
  • 100 g red onion, diced
  • 50 g cleaned cuttlefish, sliced into 5 mm strips
  • 5 g salt
  • 175 ml fish stock
  • 1 small pinch saffron threads
  • 1 tsp cumin 


Blackened snapper

  • 200 g skinless snapper fillet
  • 30 g peeled garlic cloves
  • 75 ml olive oil
  • 1 tbsp squid ink 


Tarator sauce

  • 50 g tahini paste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 35 ml water
  • 1 pinch salt 


Leek garnish

  • ½ leek, white part only, quartered
  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 knob butter
  • 1 tsp sumac 
  • 1 lime, halved 
  • mint leaves
  • coriander leaves
  • 25 g slivered almonds, to garnish
  • 25 g pine nuts, to garnish 

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 blackened snapper, place the garlic and olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat and cook until tender but not coloured. Blend the garlic cloves, 1 tbsp of the garlic oil and the squid ink with a hand-held blender until smooth. Rub the fish with the paste, place in a cryovac bag and seal. Heat a saucepan of water to 75ºC and poach the snapper for 16 minutes or until cooked (you may need to keep moving the pan of water on and off the heat – a simmer mat is ideal) (see Note).

For the leek garnish, wrap the leek, butter and oil in a baking paper parcel, then in aluminium foil. Place on a hot barbecue and cook for about 10 minutes or until tender.

Sprinkle the limes with the sumac and grill until nicely charred. Set aside.

For the sayadieh rice, wash and drain the rice 3-4 times in cold water to remove the starch. Heat the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat, add the onion and cook until starting to soften.

Add the cuttlefish and cook for 1 minute. Add the spices and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the rice and sauté for a few minutes so the rice is coated in butter.

Add the salt and stock, stirring well.

Cover with a lid, bring to a gentle simmer, stir one more time, cover with a round of double aluminium foil (or a lid). Wait till you see the steam building up in the foil, then quickly turn the heat down to low and cook for 15 minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes to steam.  

For the tarator sauce, blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.

To serve, spread the rice on the base of serving plates, drizzle over the tarator sauce, scatter over the nuts, top with the fish and then the leek salad and grilled lime.

For the plating, place the sayadieh rice at the bottom then spared the tarator on top then sprinkle with nuts. Place the fish on top of the rice. Combine the roasted link with the coriander and mint and garnish the fish. Serve with the grilled lime.


Chef's note

• At the restaurant, we cook the fish in a sous vide machine. 


Photography, styling and food preparation by China Squirrel


Roy Ner is a the head chef at NourThis 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.