k BBQ seafood kebabs with Za’atar and preserved lemons & parsley k
The success of this simple recipe depends entirely on the freshness of the fish. For this dish I used a combination of raw tiger prawns (shell on), calamari, swordfish and salmon. It’s best to go for a firmer textured fish as delicate flakey types such as sea bass or bream will just drop off the skewers. To give extra support to the skewers I double them up and use a lemon wedge at the bottom to act as a stopper.
I’m in the thought camp that fish should not be over flavoured and cooked simply – that is my main criterion when it comes to seafood in general – let the fish speak for itself. However in this case the marinade actually emulates and enhances the natural flavour of the fish, giving a very subtle but remarkable new dimension and zing.
Being a huge fan of Middle Eastern food, za’atar is a spice with personality – a wonderfully tangy spice blend of aromatic thyme, oregano, tart sourness of sumac and a rich nuttiness of sesame seeds. In this recipe, za’atar pairs deliciously with the citrus acidity of preserved lemons that are another fine compliment to fish and grilled poultry. With a good measure of organic extra virgin olive oil, a couple of crushed garlic cloves and a good handful of fresh flat leave parsley,it is a marinade made in heaven!
Here I have included a recipe to make the za’atar from scratch, but you can buy it pre-made in kosher or Middle Eastern supermarkets. I have seen it in mainstream supermarkets too, but it is worth making yourself as you will have an intensity of freshness nearly impossible to find in pre-packaged blends.
Once you have the ingredients for the marinade, cut the fish into large chunks, gently spear onto the skewers and pour over the marinade for about an hour or two. Place the kebabs on a hot BBQ and only turn once during cooking – they are delicate little creatures! They are best served with a simple summer salad and maybe a barley couscous, quinoa or wild rice.
It is super simple and super yum. Worth knowing that this marinade is fabulous with chicken, turkey, pork or grilled halloumi.
Serves four (two kebabs each)
2 large swordfish fillets
2 large salmon
2 whole squid (prepared and cut into large tubes)
24 large shell on tiger prawns (raw)
4 tablespoons of za’atar (pre made – or see my recipe below)
60ml of extra virgin olive oil
2 small preserved lemons very finely chopped (pips removed)
3 cloves crushed garlic
Juice of one fresh lemon
Big handful of flat leaf parsley finely chopped
A good pinch of salt and pepper
1. Firstly prepare the fish by chopping into large chunks. In a large bowl add the marinade ingredients – za’atar, olive oil, preserved lemons, lemon juice, crushed garlic parsley, salt and pepper. Give it a quick stir to combine and add the fish. Let it rest for a couple of hours.
2. Make sure the BBQ is good and hot then carefully place the fish kebabs onto the rack and cook for approximately 8 minutes on each side. Yes, it’s that easy.
Za’atar recipe ingredients
2 tbsp sesame seeds
4 tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp ground sumac
1 tsp sea salt
pinch ground cumin
Heat a dry pan and toast the sesame seeds on a medium heat about two minutes. Place all the other ingredients in a blender process until finely mixed or you can use a pestle and mortar to grind it all by hand. You can store this in a jar and it’s best to refrigerate for up to a week.