Tripoli is Lebanon’s largest Northern city. I remember spending a weekend there as a teenager with a family whose father was a business associate of my father’s. I thought the city was magical. My friend Aboud took me on long walks through the old city. I was mesmerized ! the Citadel of St. Gilles (built by the crusader who finally broke Tripoli’s siege in 1109), the old churches, the old mosques, the hammams (Turkish baths) I felt this was truly the Levant! Whereas Beirut felt more like a mediterranean city, Tripoli was unmistakably Arab.
This is a very easy and fast dish to prepare (the scallops cook in minutes), inspired by Tripoli’s famous fish dish, samke hamra or spiced fish. I used the same spices, but made an easy and speedy version with scallops instead of a large sea bass.
1 lb of frozen scallops
1 bunch of green onions, chopped fine
1 bunch of cilantro, washed and dried, stems discarded, leaves chopped fine
10 cloves of garlic mashed with a teaspoon of salt (or a heaping tablespoon of toom)
1/2 cup of walnuts
1/2 cup of pine nuts
1 teaspoon or more of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of more of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of chili flakes or Aleppo pepper
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb of spaghetti, any type
- Heat the olive oil in a wide skillet for 5 minutes. Drop the scallops (previously thawed, rinsed and dried), sprinkle with the coriander and cumin. Sear them a couple of minutes. Lift them up with a spoon (without the oil) and set aside.
- Drop the green onions and pan fry for a couple minutes, then add the mashed garlic and chopped cilantro, all the while stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the red pepper flakes and black pepper, pine nuts and walnuts.
- Drop the scallops in that mixture, stirring until they turn completely opaque and are cooked through. Set aside.
- Prepare the pasta by boiling 2 quarts of salted water and dropping the pasta in for 11 minutes. Drain it and add it to the scallops. Mix well, add some fresh cilantro for garnish. Sahteyn!
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