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Tripoli-Style Spicy Fish - (Samakeh Harra)

2 pounds red snapper filets
Salt -- to taste
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil -- for frying
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 onions -- finely chopped
10 garlic cloves -- minced
2 bunches cilantro -- minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup lemon juice
Freshly-ground black pepper -- to taste
Water -- if needed


Rinse fish in cold water, pat dry and rub with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside 30 minutes.


Put vegetable oil in pan (it should be enough to cover fish) and heat over medium heat. When oil is hot enough that it bubbles up if a bit of fish in placed in it, put as many pieces as comfortably fit in pan and fry 1 minute on each side. Remove filets with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.


Put olive oil and chopped onions in wide saucepan and place over medium heat. Fry until golden, 15 to 20 minutes, then add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add cilantro, cumin, coriander and cayenne and stir until cilantro softens, about 1 minute. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste and bring to boil. Boil sauce 5 minutes, adding some water if sauce dries up.


Reduce heat to low and arrange fish in sauce. Fish can be left in filets or flaked into small pieces. Cover pan and simmer until fish is done and sauce is thickened, 5 minutes.


Serve warm or cold with or without rice pilaf.


This recipe yields 4 to 6 servings.


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