Sidon was an early stop in the trip, and my family was kind enough to indulge me in putting the fish market on the tourism agenda. I mean, we all have to eat, right? But it took some serious motivation to get ready for a 7am shopping trip while still severely jet-lagged.
The market is on Sidon’s main harbor, within sight of the famous Sea Castle.
|A fisherman repairs his nets.|
The fish were then distributed to vendors’ stations around the warehouse, where they were displayed, weighed, and auctioned off by lot.
|I don't know what kind of fish this is, but that bright yellow stripe is so cool.|
Once you’ve put in the winning bid, you could take your sea loot straight to your restaurant or your house, or else take it to the stalls on the other side of the warehouse to have your fish cleaned, scaled, and gutted.
We were buying fish for lunch the next day, for 14 people. We ended up with something like 20 kilos of seafood. (Like I said, we ate heroically on this trip…) Here’s what we did with it:
|Calamari sautéed with garlic, cilantro, and lemon juice.|
|Tiny fried fish (smelt?)|
|Slightly less tiny fried fish.|
|Fried red mullet, and fried bread.|
|This restaurant has tables in the water. IN THE WATER. You can eat lunch with your feet in the sea,|
and if you venture out for a dip between courses, you can take your beer with you.
|Octopus sautéed with garlic, cilantro, and lemon.|
|Listed on the menu as "Lebanese sashimi," it's exactly what it looks like.|
(Though it seems to me that the truly Lebanese interpretation would be
to replace the soy and wasabi with lemon juice and olive oil!)
At another restaurant that specialized in seafood, though in a less casual setting, we found some fishy takes on the classic mezze menu. First, a version on the traditional kibbeh; typically a football-shaped treasure of ground lamb and bulgur wheat, this one was made of fish and filled with fish, and it was exceptionally good.
And one day I spotted this on a sushi menu. Nobody at our table ordered it, but I just might make it for myself one of these days.