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Buttered halibut recipe by Imad Alarnab

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A beloved traditional dish in Syria, very popular in the summer, this recipe is particularly appreciated on the Mediterranean seaside. It is a real crowd-pleaser because of its simplicity; the buttery sauce is used to enhance the flavour of the halibut, the lemon brings acidity and freshness, without overpowering it. Daka – also famous in Palestine – is a traditional salad in Syria. It can be served as a side salad to the fish. Refreshing and zesty.

Serves 4
butter 50g
salt 1 tsp
black pepper ½ tsp
cumin 1 tsp
garlic 2 cloves, crushed
halibut 4 x 200g fillets
lemon 1, sliced
dried thyme a pinch
chilli flakes a pinch

For the daka
green chilli 1, sliced
garlic 2 cloves, crushed
rock salt 1 tsp
parsley a handful, roughly chopped
tomatoes 2 medium-sized, diced
lemon juice of 1
olive oil 1 tbsp
spring onions a bunch (5-6), finely sliced

Preheat the oven to 220C fan/gas mark 9.

Melt the butter in a saucepan. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the melted better with the salt, black pepper, cumin and garlic. Brush the mixture over all the fish fillets.

Transfer the fillets to an oven tray and place a slice of lemon on each fillet. Cover the tray with tin foil and bake for 15-20 minutes. Check regularly with a knife to see when the fish is cooked through. Once cooked, remove the foil and put the tray back in the oven for 5-7 minutes to burn off any extra liquid and crisp up the skin and give it a nice colour. When ready, sprinkle with the dried thyme and chilli flakes.

Meanwhile, for the daka, use a pestle and mortar to mash the fresh green chilli with the garlic and salt.

Next, pound in the parsley and add tomatoes, then a good squeeze of fresh lemon, a drizzle of olive oil and the spring onions. Mix thoroughly and serve on the side of the fish.

Imad Alarnab is founder of Imad’s Syrian Kitchen, London W1

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