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This mixture is adapted from a dukkah recipe in “The Arab Table,” by May S. Bsisu. Dukkah is used not only as a condiment for vegetables and bread, but also as a coating for fried fish or vegetables.
For the dukkah:
½ cup chickpea flour
¼ cup lightly toasted unsalted peanuts
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 teaspoons lightly toasted dill seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon lightly toasted sesame seeds
½ teaspoon kosher salt or coarse sea salt
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons sumac
1. In a heavy frying pan over medium-high heat, toast the chickpea flour, stirring constantly or shaking the pan, just until it begins to smell toasty and darken slightly. Transfer immediately to a bowl.
2. Finely chop the peanuts and add to the bowl with the chickpea flour.
3. One spice at a time, heat the coriander seeds, caraway seeds, dill seeds and sesame seeds in a small skillet over medium-high heat, shaking the pan or stirring constantly, just until each is fragrant and beginning to smell toasty. Remove from the pan and allow to cool completely.
4. Working in batches, combine the coriander seeds, caraway seeds and dill seeds in a spice mill and grind to a powder. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the sesame seeds, salt, cayenne and sumac.
Variation: You can pulse the sesame seeds to partly grind, but be careful: In my experience, it is a little too easy to grind sesame seeds to paste.
Yield: 1 cup
Dukkah-Dusted Sand Dabs
Cook these delicate fish in 2 batches. They cook in about 3 minutes.
1½ pounds sand dabs (about 8 sand dabs)
½ cup Egyptian dukkah
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Juice of 1 large lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Have all of your ingredients ready by the stove. Heat a heavy cast-iron or nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Place the dukkah on a baking sheet and lightly dredge the fish fillets in it. When the pan is very hot, add 1 tablespoon of the oil, and when it is rippling, just below smoking, add as many fish fillets as can comfortably fit into the pan without crowding it too much. Cook for 1½ to 2 minutes, until browned, then turn over and cook another 1½ to 2 minutes (depending on the size of the fish), or until the fish is nicely browned on both sides. Remove to a warm platter. Repeat with the next batch of fish, until all of it has been cooked. Douse with the lemon juice, sprinkle on the parsley and serve.
Tip for advance preparation: You can dust the fish and have it ready to fry several hours ahead of time. Place on a rack over a sheet pan and keep uncovered in the refrigerator.