Fish Kibbeh

Kibbeh, kibbe, kebbeh or kubbah, which ever way you pronounce it, is traditionally composed of meat mixed with burghol. Those who know it, love it.  
For christians all over the world, the week preceding Easter is packed with significance and associated with fasting and abstinence.  In Lebanon many people will not eat meat which they will replace with legumes, vegetables and fish. 

If you want to make a little fish go a long way, turn it into kibbeh.

Fish kibbeh with caramelised onions and walnuts

In order to get even layers of kibbeh, divide them into handfuls and flatten each batch next to the other. Dip your fingers in water, to smooth the surface and make it into one uniform layer. 

For the kibbeh:
500 g white fish fillets - I used cod 
200 g fine burghol
100 g fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1 large onion
Grated zest of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon black pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil

For the caramelised onion base:
2 large onions, sliced
1 orange zest,
1 lemon zest,
¼ teaspoon saffron strands
¼ teaspoon white pepper
60 g walnuts
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Serves 6,
Preparation time: 40 minutes, 
Cooking time: 50 minutes

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  2. To prepare the onion base use two separate bowls, one for the orange zest and the other for the lemon zest. Cover each with boiling water and blanch for 3 minutes. Strain and set aside leaving them separated until ready to use.
  3. Soak the saffron strands in two tablespoons of hot water for 5 minutes.
  4. Peel and halve the onions. Holding the onion flat side down, slice it thinly against the grain.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy based pan. Add the onions and cook on medium to low heat until they begin to brown.
  6. Add the salt and pepper.
  7. Spread the walnuts onto a baking sheet and toast in the hot oven for 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and reserve. 
  8. Stir the saffron water into the onions on high heat to reduce.  Remove from the heat and mix in the orange zest. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  9. To prepare the fish kibbeh, puree 1 onion in a food processor.
  10. Cut the fish into manageable portions and drop them into the creamed onion while the food processor is running. Continue to blend until the mixture is soft and slightly sticky.
  11. Whizz the coriander into the fish and finally combine with lemon zest, and black pepper; transfer to a mixing bowl.
  12. Rinse burghol in cold water and strain it in a sieve. Squeeze out excess water with your hands.
  13. Work burghol into the fish mixture. At this stage you can either pulse it through the food processor, or simply knead it like dough. The mixture should look uniform and evenly smooth.
  14. Oil a 25 cm round ovenproof dish.
  15. Divide the kibbeh in two portions.  Spread the first part evenly onto the base. Arrange the caramelised onions and walnuts on top. 
  16. Now cover with a final layer of kibbeh mixture making sure it is of even thickness. 
  17. Wet your hands to smooth the surface. With a kitchen knife, cut 6 equal triangles inside the circle.  Make crisis cross indents onto the surface of each triangle. 
  18. Brush the surface with the remaining olive oil.
  19. Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges and the surface are golden. 
  20. Remove from the oven and leave to cool down to room temperature.
  21. Serve with salad.

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