Fish Kibbeh

May 28, 2009  •  Category:


We did not grow up eating this type of kibbeh  in our household in Beirut.  This kibbeh  hails from Tripoli, our Northern capital and a large seaport. On one of my visits to Lebanon, a friend  ordered it from a caterer. I found several recipes for it and tried them all! This one is my favorite. Great recipe for a party because it can be served at room temperature. I have also had good luck freezing it, both cooked and uncooked, although I would not recommend keeping it in the freezer for longer than 2 weeks. This recipe is adapted from Nada Saleh Fragrance of the Earth


For the Kibbeh

1 lb 2oz frozen tilapia fillets (the whole package), defrosted

6 oz fine burghul (about 1 1/4 cup), soaked for a few seconds and drained very well

2 large eggs (this is an optional addition I came up with because I think it makes the dough fluffier)

1 onion (4oz), chopped very fine

grated rind of one lemon and one lime (can be substituted for orange)

salt, pepper

1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon of ground coriander (optional), 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil with a dab of turmeric or saffron, to brush on the surface (optional)

For the filling:

5 large onions (about 20 oz in total)

1/4 cup (or more) of pine nuts

1/4 cup of vegetable oil (olive oil or other)

pinch of saffron or turmeric (make sure it is fresh!)

salt, white or black pepper


  • Prepare the filling: cut the onions in thin slices and fry them gently in some oil until they become golden-brown
  • Add the pine nuts and fry them with the onions. Add the spices. Set the filling aside.
  • Dab the fillets with flour and place them in the food processor. Add the lemon and lime rinds, the cilantro and process for a few minutes. If you catch fish ligaments, remove them with a sharp knife or a fork.
  • Combine the onion with the burghul and all the spices that you wish to use: salt, pepper, turmeric, ground coriander.
  • Add the onion/burghul mixture and the eggs to the food processor and process for a few minutes more till the paste is well mixed and holds together well.
  • Remove the kibbe and place it into a bowl nearby. Divide it in half. Grease a 10 inch round baking pan and spread half of the kibbe mixture evenly on the pan. I found it easier to roll the kibbe between sheets of wax paper with a rolling pin and then flipping it onto the pan.
  • Spread the cooled filling on the kibbe. Now spread the other half of the kibbe on top, using the same technique of the rolling pin if you wish. Another trick I have used is to insert my hand inside a small sandwich plastic bag and tap the dough here and there to get it flat and even.
  • Using a knife, remove any white ligaments. Line the pie with crisscrossing lines and decorate if you wish with some nuts.
  • Dab a bit of olive oil mixed with turmeric or saffron on top of the pie to give it shine and keep it moistened.

Bake for 25 minutes in a 325F oven (medium heat) till puffed up and cooked through. Serve hot or at room temperature. Sahteyn!img_4003 img_4007 img_4016 img_4008 img_4011 img_4017


Mrs Saleh in her book gives instructions for a one-layer kibbe, in which the filling is spread at the bottom of the pan and the kibbe dough on top. I prefer my method because I feel that it looks nicer. Your call.

Also, regarding the type of fish used. I have tried many different varieties including catfish. If you want to splurge, sea bass would be the best choice. However as long as the fish is white and somewhat meaty you will get excellent results.




11 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Arlette says:

    very nice looking kibbee my dear, and yes its very tasty and delicious, I prepare it too, but without saffron or turmeric.
    great dish, and kibbee is a favourite to me, with any stuffing…
    thanks very much for sharing.

    • Joumana says:

      I would love to explore all the kibbe dishes, there are so many! A friend mentioned kibbe hamees and I am itching to try it!

  2. zoon says:

    I ate Kebbet Samak (fish kebbé) in Batroune made in kebeb shape (oblong ball stuffed),
    it is divine! a must try.

  3. Neomi says:

    I don’t comment on your blog usually, though I really love it. Just wanted to say I made these on Friday and it was so so good. We don’t eat meat very often so the fish kobbeh recipe is perfect for us..Thank you for posting this!

  4. Carine says:

    Being from Haiti, I am familiar with the meat and fish kebbe options (use the oblong shape for both). I have also perfected kebbe recipes for a) crab meat, which is a fantastic twist on crab cakes and b) italian sausage, a twist of the meat kebbe. The basic recipe can be tweeked to make so many versions…

    • Joumana says:

      @Carine: sounds so exciting! Please do tell me more and I will test them and post them and give you full credit! 🙂

  5. Maan says:

    Interesting, have you tried making it like a ball and deep frying it? Just wondering. Also what do you think of using parsley instead of coriander. There is a restaurant in Amman that makes a very nice version. For stuffing the chef uses minute shrimps and the kibbeh is fried, he also uses safron and turmeric for different effects.

    • Joumana says:

      @Maan: I did fry it in another post; Chef Karim Haidar in Beirut also stuffs his with a shrimp and I love the idea! I think using parsley instead of coriander is a wonderful idea if you prefer it this way.

Add a Comment