Sumac Halibut and Pilaf

Sumac Halibut and Pilaf

Despite looking and sounding like it will be a spicy middle eastern herb, Sumac has a tart, almost lemony flavor and is great sprinkled on fish or chicken, light salads, and rice pilaf. Common in Arab dishes, it comes from ground Rhus flowers, found in subtropic and temperate parts of Africa.
For this dish I chose to pair it with some halibut from my freezer and made a barley pilaf reminiscent of couscous, but with nearly 4 times the protein of that or rice. Simple and fresh, this recipe uses only a few basic ingredients and straight-forward flavor blend. The dried tomatoes complimented the sumac VERY well and would be a great choice with nearly any other white meat or grain. Perhaps try chicken and quinoa?

Tangy Sumac Halibut and Barley Pilaf



  • 2 cups barley
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 Roma tomatoes diced
  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 1 bunch cilantro tops chopped
  • 2 lbs halibut (or other light white fish)
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 dried tomatoes
  • 2 T ground sumac
  • 1/4 t salt
  • ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 stick butter


  1. For the Barley:
    In a blender or bullet add the garlic, dried tomatoes, sumac, salt, and pepper until well mixed.
    Bring barley, chicken stock, and 2/3 of the seasoning blend to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, until the barley is thoroughly cooked, but be aware that it will retain an amount of chewiness. Set aside to cool slightly.
    Lightly brown the onion in a small pan and stir into the cooked barley. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and cilantro.
  2. For the Fish:
    Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the remaining 1/3 of seasoning blend. Spoon over the halibut, being sure to add generous amounts of the blended ingredients into the fish, both sides, pressing slightly to allow it to stick and coat the fish.
    Broil. This will only take a few minutes on each side. The fish should easily pull apart with a fork when fully cooked.

Serve generous portions of the pilaf topped with 6-8 ounces of halibut. Use fresh Cilantro sprigs for garnish.

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