Fish with Tamarind Sauce

fish with tamarind sauce
Photo: Bobbi Lin

Fresh snapper is paired with a delectable sweet-sour sauce and a lively parsley salad in this speedy supper inspired by the Saudi Arabian dish samak bil sabbar.


  • ½ cup tamarind paste

  • 2 cups hot water

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 large tomato, diced

  • 3 teaspoons sugar

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 4 flaky white fish fillets (6 ounces each), such as red snapper

  • Gulf-Style Parsley Salad


  1. Place tamarind in a medium bowl and cover with hot water. Let soak for 15 minutes; mash tamarind. Strain through a sieve, pressing on solids and scraping the bottom of the sieve to remove pulp. Discard the seeds and set strained liquid aside.

  2. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring often, until golden, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in tomato, sugar, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and reserved tamarind liquid. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened. Add more water if sauce becomes too dry. Stir in 1 tablespoon butter and season with salt and pepper; keep sauce warm.

  3. Season fish with salt and pepper. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sear fish skin-side down, turning once, until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Spoon sauce over fish and serve with parsley salad.

Related Articles