Baku Fish Kebabs (Baliq Shashlik)

Baku Fish Kebabs. Excerpted from Taste of Persia by Naomi Duguid (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2016. Photographs by Gentl & Hyers.

Although sturgeon from the Caspian Sea is the classic and most highly regarded fish in Azerbaijan, you can use any firm, rich fish for these kebabs. The chunks of fish marinate briefly in a blend of lemon juice, salt, and dill before being threaded onto skewers and grilled. They make a great summer meal.

Serves 4 to 6


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  • 2 pounds skin-on fish fillets: sturgeon or other rich fish, such as salmon or Alaskan black cod
  • About ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
  • About 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced (optional)
  • ¼ cup minced scallions (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon ground sumac, or to taste


Cut the fillets crosswise into pieces about 11⁄2 inches wide. Place in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, dill, and 1⁄2 teaspoon of the salt and mix gently to coat the fish. Add the oil and mix again. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to medium hot and place a rack about 5 inches above the coals or flame.

Thread the fillets onto skewers. It’s easiest to use two skewers in parallel to hold the fish: Pierce 2 or 3 pieces of fish with one skewer, not through the center, but close to one end; then pierce the other end of the pieces with a second skewer, so the arrangement looks like a ladder with fish rungs. Make sure the skin side of all the pieces is facing the same way.

Set aside on a tray and repeat with the remaining fish.

Place the skewers skin side down on the rack over the coals or flame and grill for 10 minutes. Turn over and grill until the fish is just cooked, another 4 minutes or so.

Cover a platter with the sliced onions and the sliced tomatoes, if using. Slide the fish off the skewers onto the platter. Sprinkle the remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, the scallions, if using, and sumac over the fish, and serve with accompaniments, such as wedges of lemon.

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