Samak Masgouf (Grilled Fish)

Samak Masgouf (Grilled Fish)

Friends, Thanksgiving is near. In honor of this American feast, we are posting what we consider the “Turkey” of an Iraqi Feast, Samak Masgouf, or grilled fish. Some say that Samak Masgouf is the national dish of Iraq. For us, it has always been the show-stopper at a large family gathering. All eyes flock to it and mouths instantly water as it is presented at the center of the table . Traditionally, the fish is cooked whole over an open fire and served whole. However, for us modern cooks, a large filet of fish baked in the oven, makes this an easy, yet striking dish for any dinner party. This light flaky fish, paired with tangy, spiced sauce is best enjoyed over a bed of rice.

Samak Masgouf over a bed of brown rice

It is a complete meal that leaves you feeling warm and satisfied, yet light enough that you will still have room for dessert. It’s perfect for your next holiday party! Happy Turkey Day All (or should we say Happy Samak Masgouf Day)!

Samak Masgouf

A light flaky white fish is cooked in a delicious tangy spiced sauce. It pairs perfectly with a bed of rice.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Arabic


  • 2 lbs fresh fish filet (Cod), butterflied skinless and boneless
  • 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 tsp All spice (Bahar)
  • 2.5 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp dried lime (Noomi Basra)
  • Fresh squeezed juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 3 oz tomato paste
  • 1-2 roma tomatoes sliced for decoration
  • 1 yellow onion medium sized, sliced for decoration
  • 1/3 cup coarsley chopped Italian parsley for garnish
  • 1.5 tbsp garlic minced or crushed
  • 1/2 tbsp salt for sauce/paste
  • 1 tsp salt for seasoning fish
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp tamarind concentrate


  • Line baking sheet with foil and lightly sprinkle 1 tbsp of oil over foil. Place butterflied fish fillet on lined baking sheet and pat dry with paper towel.
  • Sprinkle 1 tsp of salt over fish filet to lightly season
  • In a bowl, combine tomato paste, curry powder, bahar (allspice), water, garlic, 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1/2 tbsp of salt, lemon juice, tamarind concentrate, dried lime to form a paste
  • Spread paste over fish filet then top with sliced roma tomato and sliced yellow onion (see picture).
  • Bake in 425 degree oven for 25 minutes (place on bottom rack first and move to top rack after about 15 minutes of baking).
  • Broil for 2-3 minutes until onion and tomato have some blackened marks on them.
  • Remove from oven and garnish with italian parsley before serving.


You can use any white fish you would like.   We prefer Cod because it has  a mild, light, buttery flavor , but is thick enough to withhold the weight of the sauce.   Others have preferred “tougher” white fish like catfish, carpe or whitefish.
Keyword baharat, fish, tamarind

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