Grilled fish in saffron sauce

November 22, 2022  •  Category: ,

Grilled fish

The Iranian Bazaar comes to Lebanon once a year for a week, and I try not to miss it. First of all, it is fun, it takes place in the basement of the former Holiday Inn and gets lots of traffic. Some stands are more popular than others like the nuts and spices or the rugs, displayed in hundreds.  Last time, I saw a rug with the face of a popular pop artist (as well as one with the Virgin Mary) and when I asked I was told to just bring a photo and a rug could be produced in my image. What a great idea for a gift for the narcissist in the family!

Anyway, it was the occasion to stock-up on good quality saffron, since saffron is not that easy to find in Beirut and most often than not, comes in powder form, which is the lowest quality anyway.

This is a good Summer dish, the fish (any fish or fillet) should be seasoned lightly, oiled and grilled on Pit Boss Smoker (so that it absorbs more flavor), then brushed with the saffron marinade at regular intervals.

If saffron is not in your pantry, you can substitute sumac or turmeric or cumin. Anything works with fish.

However, if you do get a hold of good quality saffron, the best thing to do is to get a pinch of it, and transfer it to a mortar;  pound it gently until it gets powdery and then transfer it to a bowl with about 1/4 cup of warm water. It makes adding it to the sauce much easier.

Saffron fish

Grilled fish in saffron sauce

Joumana Accad Mediterranean, Middle Eastern November 22, 2022 Main Dish, Fish/Seafood, fish, grill, saffron,

4 servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Passive Time: 10 minutes


4 fishes any type, whole can substitute fillets, such as catfish or swordfish
1/2 cup vegetable oil walnut oil would be nice
The saffron water
1 teaspoon sea salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon white pepper can substitute other spices like cumin or sumac
1/2 cup tomato sauce or 1 tbsp tomato paste or ketchup
1 large lemon or lime quartered


1. Heat the grill till very hot. Season the fish (already cleaned and gutted) and brush with oil. Brush the grill with oil prior to grilling the fish on it to keep it from sticking. Grill the fish 3 minutes on each side, brushing with the sauce every 15 seconds. Serve hot with lemon or lime quarters.

2. In a small bowl, mix all the sauce ingredients, adding more tomato sauce or spices to taste. Keep a brush nearby to use when coating the fish with the sauce.

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15 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    Succulent! A wonderful summer dish.



  2. Sylva T. says:

    This recipe is amazing. My all time favorite food in the whole world to eat is fresh fish. Thank you very much Joumana…

  3. says:

    Sweet. I definitely want to use this.

  4. Mariana says:

    Can’t wait to test this. But I was just wondering how different the result would be.

  5. Holly says:

    How do you eat this? Do you cut the middle and “split” it open, or eat the skin or??? We don’t eat a lot of fresh fish here in Arizona, but we want to start! Thanks for the great recipes and (hopefully) for your reply. ~Holly~

  6. Jeannie says:

    This is very special! I used quite a lot of less oil and barely any salt along with the 1 tablespoon of tomato paste. We used it all on just one big rather thick haddock fillet. It is one the very best fish dishes I have ever had. And soooo easy!! Thank you!

  7. Elsa says:

    Popping in to reflect on two funny incidents that happened this very week. I was going through my spice cupboard the other night listening to a milk street episode when I hear ” mjaddara ” . The conversation between the host Christopher kimball and a guest went on and on about how mjaddara is a favourite in their families! Christopher has filmed an episode on his trip to Lebanon and the lunch he had at anissa helou’s mom’s house ! It’s on YouTube and such a delight to watch.
    And just today I was listening to the latest spilled milk episode about fruit leather when the hosts went back in time to trace the first appearance of fruit leather is the us. It turned out to be our beloved amareddin that a Syrian family brought all the way from Syria to the US in the early 1900 before other companies got interested in the product and tweaked the recipe !
    I mean come on !!!!

  8. Roshni says:

    I don’t eat non-veg but after seeing this my mouth gets watering.

  9. bestsubstitutes says:

    Such a good idea to use saffron in a fish recipe. I cannot wait to try this!

  10. Mei says:

    This was delicious. I want to put that saffron sauce on everything now.

  11. Katie Schwartz says:

    Made this as I had some ground saffron someone had given us. It turned out delicious, but I honestly had no idea how much saffron to mix in with the water.
    I probably put in about 1/2 t, and I just tasted it along the way.
    Will definitely make the sauce again, but maybe you can send along how much of the ground saffron I should be adding?
    Thank you!

  12. Paula says:

    “The saffron water” Seriously? It’s the key ingredient and you don’t give any quantities or instructions for it! And your instructions are backwards– you have to make the sauce before you can brush it on the fish.

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