Baked Fish Stuffed with Sumac Mix (Samak Mashwi bil-Summaq)

This recipe is adapted from the thirteenth-century Baghdadi cookbook. Originally fish is to be baked in the tannour, but the regular oven will do the job just fine. Although the recipe calls for a whole fish, which would be a nice thing to have, I sometimes use the whole tail part of a medium to big salmon, slash the skin and fill it and tie it the way I normally do with a whole fish.

Ingredients:
(Recipe makes 4 servings)
2 1/2 to 3 pounds whole fish such as a small salmon or 2 big trout, butterflied. Keep skin and make 2 to 3 diagonal slashes on the outer skin on both sides
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
For the stuffing:
1/2 cup sumac, see Glossary
1/4 cup za'atar or thyme, see Glossary
1/2 teaspoon coriander, cumin, cinnamon, each, optional
4 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 cup toasted walnut, chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
- About 3 tablespoons water
Method:
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Rub fish with oil and turmeric inside and out.
3. Mix stuffing ingredients, it should have a paste-like consistency. Add a little water if needed. Fill the inside of the fish with it. Secure the fish closed with a kitchen thread, or wooden picks.
4. Put in a greased baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 450 degrees F. for about 20 minutes, or until flesh is flaky when poked with a fork, and skin is nicely browned. (Cooking time depends on how thick and big the fish is)

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