New to Northern Soul: Tony Kitous, founder of Lebanese restaurant Comptoir Libanaisshares delicious recipes from his new cookbook Feasts from the Middle East.

Kitous says: “Once you’ve tried it, I promise that you’ll love making this dish again and again for friends and family. You need to ask the fishmonger to give you a bag of bones when you buy the fish so you can make stock.” 

Sea Bass with Spiced Rice (Sayadieh)

Serves 6


For the sea bass

2 garlic cloves, crushed

juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp cumin

small bunch of coriander, chopped

25ml olive oil

½ tsp salt

good pinch of black pepper

6 large sea bass fillets – ask the fishmonger for the bones

small handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley and pomegranate seeds, to serve

For the rice

25ml olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

500g basmati rice

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin

juice of 1 lemon

For the stock and sauce 

50ml olive oil

2 onions, sliced

1 garlic clove, chopped

500g fish bones

1½–2 litres boiling water

1 lemon, chopped

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp cornflour


Sea Bass with spiced riceStart by making the stock. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onions until they turn a dark golden colour. Scoop out a spoonful (about a third) to use as garnish later.

Stir in the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the fish bones, the boiling water, the lemon and the cumin, and cover the pan with a lid. Bring to the boil and simmer, half-covered, for one hour.

Next, marinate the sea bass. Put the garlic, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, oil, salt and pepper into a shallow container. Stir everything together. Add the fillets and toss to coat. Cover and chill until you’re ready to cook them.

When the stock is cooked, strain it into a bowl. Now it’s time to cook the rice. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the finely chopped onions until golden. Stir in the rice, the salt and cumin and cook for one minute. Pour 1 litre of stock into the pan and stir everything together.

Cover with a lid and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down very low and cook for 12 minutes. Turn off the heat, squeeze over the juice of a lemon and leave the rice to steam.

While the rice is cooking, heat the grill until it’s very hot. Take the fish fillets out of the marinade, lay them on a baking sheet and grill until the flesh is opaque, 5–10 minutes.

Pour the rest of the stock into a clean saucepan and place over a low heat. Put the cornflour into a small bowl and stir in a couple of tablespoons of the cold stock. Stir this to make a thick sauce, then pour it back into the stock to thicken it slightly.

When you’re ready to serve, spoon the rice into bowls, top with the fish, then spoon over the sauce and finish with a few of the reserved onions and a sprinkling of parsley and pomegranate seeds.


Feasts from the Middle East is published by HQ and is now available to buy.