“Masgouf” has to be one of my favorite words! If you are wondering
What Fish is Used to Cook Masgouf?
In the early ’70s, my family lived in Iraq. We actually lived there until I was ten years old. We moved to the United States in 1976. Back then, mom prepared Masgouf quite regularly.
The large carp she used to make Masgouf was tastier than any fish I’ve had since. Although carp isn’t a fish known for being highly desirable in America, Iraqi carp was actually exceptional. At least they used to be back in the early ’70s when we lived in Iraq.
After all, the carp
The Traditional Way of Preparing Masgouf
I remember back when my father would come home from the market, with a large carp in tow. The fish would be handed over to my mom, who would work her magic to prepare the BEST Masgouf I’ve ever tasted.
Mom began by butterflying the beautiful, and quite large fish. Next, she worked on the sauce, while my father prepared the fire pit outside. After mom seasoned the fish and smothered it with sauce, dad would carefully suspend the thing of beauty over the fire.
He used using two stakes to accomplish this. I wish that I had a photo to share with you. Luckily, I found this image which depicts what I’m trying to describe. (Wikimedia)
It it crazy that I can still smell the heavenly aroma? When it was time to eat, we would spread a blanket on the ground. The Masgouf was the star of the show, while Vermicelli Rice was always served on the side. Both were placed in the center of the blanket. Our entire family (nine in total) would sit in a large circle around the meal. We feasted like kings, under the stars.
These days when I prepare masgouf, it’s not as an elaborate of an experience. I’m usually eating it alone, or maybe with a friend or two. I sometimes prepare it in the oven, while other times I grill the masgouf on the barbecue using a grill basket.
No matter what method I use to cook the Masgouf, or who I’m enjoying it with, it always takes me back to those simpler days gone by; oh how I miss them. But instead of dwelling on the past, I look forward to creating new memories with old and new friends!
Preparing the Fish
- Wash fish under running water and pat dry.
- Rub salt and curry into fish and set aside as you prepare the sauce.
Preparing the Sauce
- Chop half of the onion, along with the cloves of garlic, and sauté in vegetable oil.
- Chop one of the tomatoes and add to the same pan, along with the parsley, tomato paste, vinegar, lemon juice, water, salt, curry, and cayenne pepper.
- Stir until all the ingredients come together to form a rich sauce.
- Simmer for five minutes.
Cooking the Fish
- Smother fish with the tomato sauce.
- Slice and arrange the remaining tomatoes and onions and arrange on top of the fish.
- Grill the fish in a grill basket for 20 minutes, flipping half way.
- If you prefer, bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 375-degrees F. Broil for a few minutes before serving.
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Masgouf / Iraqi Grilled Fish
- 1 lb. white fish fillets
- 2 tsp. salt divided
- 2 tsp. curry divided
- 1 large onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 T. vegetable oil
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups chopped parsley
- 1/2 6 0z. can tomato paste
- 2 T. vinegar
- 2 T. lemon juice
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper optional
- Wash fish fillets and pat dry. Rub with one teaspoon salt and one teaspoon curry. Place on grill-safe pan or tray that’s been covered with foil. Cover, to keep the fish from drying out and refrigerate until ready to cook.
- Sauce: Chop half of the onion, along with the cloves of garlic, and sauté in vegetable oil until translucent.
- Chop one of the tomatoes and add to the same pan, along with the parsley, tomato paste, vinegar, lemon juice, water, remaining salt and curry. Add cayenne pepper, if using. Stir until all the ingredients come together to form a nice, rich sauce. Simmer for approximately five minutes and set aside to cool.
- Slice the remaining onion and tomato. Remove the fish from the refrigerator and smother with the tomato sauce.
- Arrange the sliced tomatoes and onions on top of the sauce. I grilled the fish in a grill basket to achieve that classic smokey masgouf flavor, but you can also bake it in the oven.
- Heat your barbecue grill, and once hot, add the fish. Cook for approximately 10 minutes. Flip halfway through.
- Served with white rice, topped with the tangy tomato sauce.