Fish shawarma sandwich

Ever had samkeh harra? Samkeh harra is a glorious dish that is served at buffets at big parties like weddings for example; it is a large fish (loukoz, a type of sea bass), baked whole (head and tail included) and served encased in a tahini and herb sauce with a touch of red chili pepper and a sprinkle of walnuts.

Well, I took the spices and flavors of this dish and converted it into a street food shawarma-style sandwich; easier to manage than a 5-pounder, you simply grill or pan-fry fish fillets, make a quick tarator and serve in a pita bread with fresh tomatoes and avocados.

INGREDIENTS: 4 servings

  • 4 fish fillets of your choice
  • 1/2  cup of tahini (4 ounces, 125 ml)
  • 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice (4 ounces, 125 ml)
  • 3 (or more, to taste) cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts, crushed
  • 1 bunch of cilantro or dill or flat-parsley
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 1 large avocado
  • olive oil, as needed
  • Spices: 2 teaspoons of sumac, 1 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of ground coriander, pinch of cinnamon and salt, as needed


  1. Mix all the spices and sprinkle on the fish fillets, both front and back. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil and set the fillets aside. Crush the garlic with a dash of salt in a mortar until pasty. Transfer to a bowl, add the tahini and stir to combine. Add the lemon juice and stir, add up to 3/4 cup of water and stir constantly until the tarator is smooth. Keep in mind you want it fairly thick and not too watery, so always add the water gradually, checking the texture and taste and adjust if needed.
  2. Grill the fish or pan-fry in some olive oil until the fish is done. While the fish is cooking, slice the tomatoes, avocados and onions if using. Open each pita, slather with tarator, sprinkle some crushed walnuts, extra herbs, place the fish in the bread, add the tomato slices and avocado slices and serve.

NOTE: The tarator is a sauce that you can adjust according to your taste; more garlic or lemon juice? sure! Anything goes! (tarator=tahini sauce)

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  1. Posted April 25, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Oh this is just beautiful for the summer and all those exciting flavors is a party in the mouth! Perfect modern interpretation to a traditional classic.

    This one is calling my name this summer :)

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  2. Posted April 25, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    that grilled fish looks so tasty….i don’t love fish as much as i should…this looks like a simple recipe and would love to give this a try….:D

  3. Posted April 25, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never heard of it – but it does look luscious and pretty simple. I love the idea of “fish street food.” (Non-existant here). The entire sea bass must be exciting to see! The combo of avocado, tomatoes and then some tahini really enchants.

  4. Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Love the way you created this gorgeous shwarma!

  5. Posted April 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    This is my kinda sammie! The combination of tahini, fish, spices and avocado sounds absolutely divine!!!

  6. Posted April 26, 2011 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    I’ve enjoyed many a shawarma, but never a fish version. And I LOVE seafood. This sandwich has me salivating — big-time! ;)

  7. Posted April 26, 2011 at 1:37 am | Permalink

    Magnificent! That is a fabulous sandwich. This weekend, I made something similar with lamb…



  8. Posted April 26, 2011 at 5:24 am | Permalink

    Irresistible sandwich,fabulous!

  9. Posted April 26, 2011 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    This looks delicious… I might try it with snoek, a local fish that’s cheap and packed with flavour.

  10. Posted April 26, 2011 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I”m fairly certain that this shawarma would make for the most PERFECT lunch!

  11. Posted April 26, 2011 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    That sounds like heaven…..I love tahini and that dressing has to be wonderful!

  12. Posted April 26, 2011 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    look absolutely georgeous and delicious! gloria

  13. Posted April 26, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    We love spicy fish but never thought to serve it in a sandwich. Great idea, Joumana!

  14. Posted April 26, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    a perfect recipe for this period, I love it, thanks for sharing dear Joumana, a hug…

  15. Posted April 26, 2011 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    We are starting to add more fish to our menu, and this would fit the bill, so much flavor and spice, and the sauce so flavorful! I would love to try this, looks delicious!

  16. Posted April 26, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I’ve never had this combination but I love every ingredient and the idea of putting it all together in a sandwich.

  17. Posted April 26, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    That looks amazing AND healthy!

  18. Posted April 26, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Will you please move to Denver and open up a food truck? I’ll volunteer to serve and wash dishes!!

  19. Posted April 26, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Sounds interesting to have avocado with fish! I have had it with surimi and shrimps before but never thought of fish.

  20. Posted April 26, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    That looks mouthwatering. Diane

  21. Posted April 26, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    What a yummie sandwich…looks delicious, light and yet very tasty. Hope you have a great week ahead Joumana :-)

  22. Posted April 26, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Love your small version, Joumana. An interesting combo of flavors and ingredients. Walnuts are a surprise here and I bet they’re perfect with the avocado; nice and crunchy!

  23. Posted April 26, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    This is a totally new dish to me. Sounds so flavoursome!

  24. Posted April 26, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Very healthy, flavorful and the yummiest. I am making this as soon as I get my hands on the ingredients.

  25. Posted April 26, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    This is my kind of meal! Perfect! :)

  26. Posted April 27, 2011 at 4:27 am | Permalink

    Ohhh! What a delicious and refreshing way to serve fish.Way to go!
    Thanks for your visit!

  27. Posted April 27, 2011 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    This is so healthy and tasty!!

  28. Posted April 27, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Looks delicious! I have family visiting this summer and they love seafood. Definitely have to let them try this.

  29. Posted April 27, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    What a wonderful dish for warmer weather Season…looks fantastic :)

  30. Posted April 28, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Wow…I’m a huge fan of fish tacos, and these look 10 times better! – S

  31. mrushad patel
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    this is an absolutly brilliant recipe. could you post your recipe for chicken shawarma? i

  32. Posted May 3, 2011 at 1:54 am | Permalink

    yay the deliciousness!

2 Trackbacks

  1. [...] Fish shawarma sandwich Taste of Beirut [...]

  2. […] recipe is brought to you from the Taste of Beirut, with a few tinkerings by yours truly. One day I decided to google “fish shawarma” to […]

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