Sea Bass with Spiced Rice

This fragrant whole baked sea bass recipe is super simple, utterly delicious and a real show stopper. The onion rice is flavored with the removed fish head to give a really good seafood flavor, and the fish itself is baked to be flaky and juicy. This dish is actually Lebanese in origin.

Sea Bass with Spiced Rice
Sea Bass with Spiced Rice

The time it takes to get this recipe on your table is about and and a quarter hour and it’s enough for 4 persons.


  • whole sea bass, about 500g/1lb 2oz, cleaned and scaled
  • 120ml/4 floz/½ cup sunflower oil
  • 4 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (for the sweet tooth under us, make it 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 200g/7oz/1 cup medium-grain rice
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped parsley leaves (optional)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • lemon wedges, to serve
  • Tarator to serve

    Sea Bass with Spiced Rice
    Sea Bass with Spiced Rice

  1. Cut off the fish head and season it with salt.
  2. Set aside the remaining fish.
  3. Heat the sunflower oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat.
  4. When the oil begins to sizzle, add the fish head and fry for  about 5 minutes on each side.
  5. Remove the fish head and set aside.
  6. Add the onions to the pan and fry for about 5 minutes until golden, stirring occasionally.
  7. Remove from the heat and transfer the onions to a plate lined with paper towels.
  8. Spread three-quarters of the drained onions evenly across the base of a heavy-based saucepan.
  9. Place the pan over a low heat, add the fish head and cover with 500ml/17fl oz/generous 2 cups water.
  10. Add the cumin, cinnamon and allspice, and season to taste with salt.
  11. Cover, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to the boil, then remove the fish head and reserve.
    3 Add the rice to the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for about 30 minutes or until the rice is tender and the water has been absorbed.
  12. Preheat the oven to 200˚C/400˚F/Gas 6.
  13. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat for 1–2 minutes until golden and fragrant, shaking the pan often.
  14. Put the uncooked fish in a baking dish, season to taste with salt and pepper and drizzle with the olive oil.
  15. Bake for 20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when pushed with a fork.
  16. Divide the fish into four equal portions.
  17. Transfer the cooked rice to a dish, stand the fish head in the center, if you like, and arrange the fish portions on top of the rice.
  18. Add the remaining caramelized onions and the toasted pine nuts to the dish.
  19. Sprinkle with parsley and serve the dish with the lemon wedges and Tarator.
Sea Bass with Spiced Rice
Sea Bass with Spiced Rice
Sea Bass with Spiced Rice
Sea Bass with Spiced Rice
Sea Bass with Spiced Rice
Sea Bass with Spiced Rice

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