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Fishery and fish recipes in Gaza

Contributed by Toine Van Teeffelen on 18.02.2006:

Some 15 years ago Gaza was renowned for its large fish market. There you could find all kinds of fish including sardines, mullets, red bream and horse mack. As there were no long closures people had access to markets in the West Bank and Israel. The recent political changes have played havoc with the fishermen. Nowadays you can hardly speak of a Gaza fishery. The restrictions in using the harbour and the Israeli closure policy make it difficult to trade the fish to other markets. The fishery does not even supply enough fish for the Gazan population. It hardly covers 1% of the national income of Gaza. There are about 2500 fishermen, mostly poor. They are primarily from Beach (refugee) Camp near Gaza town. They catch fish for the local market and their own families.

Some fish are so expensive that people cannot afford to buy them. It is cheaper to buy imported frozen fish from South America than fresh fish from Gaza. Sardines are especially popular with the Gazans. The fishermen catch them with a big net called pursine. Sardines are fried with garlic, hot spices and oil.


Syadeia (a derivation of syad meaning “fisher”)

Fish with rice and spices

1 kilo big fish (for instance lotus or mullet)

1 kilo rice

2 or 3 onions

4 cloves of garlic

black pepper


saffran to color the rice

2 lemons


Clean and wash the fish. Undo the bones. Marinate the fish with lemon and flour. Cut the fish in large pieces. Place the pieces in another plate and add lemon juice, salt, garlic and cumin. Leave the fish for one hour.

Cut the onions in large chops. Fry the fish with olive oil for 3-5 minutes until well done. Turn the pieces around. Put the fish chops aside. Use the same olive oil and pan to saute the onions for two minutes.

Put the pieces of fish on the botton of the pan. Put the onions on top of the fish. Wash the rice. Use for each cup of rice two cups of water. Put the rice and herbs on the fish. Put the pan with the ingredients on a high fire. When the water boils, lower the fire, cover the pan, and watch from time to time until the water is absorbed.

Serve the dish with a vegetable salad and lemon.

Makes 4 servings.

Samak il magle

Fish fried in olive oil

You can use any small fish. In Gaza, sardines are cheap and delicious.

1 kilo sardines

1/2 kilo tomatoes

1 kilo patatoes


1 green pepper


black pepper



Clean, wash and unbone the fish. Add lemon juice, flour, black pepper, garlic, a green pepper and cumin. Leave the marinated fish for one hour.

After this, fry the sardines in olive oil. Put some more flour on the fish and turn the sardines around until they brown. Take them out on a plate.

Cut the potatoes in small pieces, fry them in olive oil, and take them on a plate.

Cut the tomatoes small. Crash the garlic and green pepper. Mix the tomatoes, garlic and green pepper well. Add to taste salt and black pepper.

Serve the three dishes with hot bread.

Makes 4 servings.

From: “Sahteen: Discover the Palestinian Culture by Eating”, published by the Freres School, Bethlehem, part of the Culture and Palestine series issued by the Arab Educational Institute-Open Windows, Bethlehem, 1999. To order the book, send a mail to

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