I like to grill or roast whole porgy in the summer and serve them with this classic Lebanese sauce, a simple mixture of onions, walnuts, chopped cilantro, and a little chile. It’s the sort of dish that is equally tasty hot, fresh off the grill, as it is left to steep in the sauce for a few hours, then eaten at room temperature on a stifling summer night. —Sara Jenkins
2-pound whole porgy, scaled and gutted
cloves garlic, crushed with the flat side of a knife
plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
walnut halves, roughly chopped
small Spanish onions, chopped (should have 2 cups)
Juice of 3 lemons
lemon, halved sliced into thin slices for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450° F. Prepare the porgy for baking. Season the inside cavities of the two fish and divide the cumin seeds amongst the two. Place 1 clove of crushed garlic in each along with a sprig or two of cilantro. Drizzle a tablespoon of oil over each fish and season with salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan that fits both fairly snugly and set aside while you start the sauce.
Chop the cilantro roughly, reserving a few sprigs for garnish, then pulse in a food processor with the walnuts, onions, jalapeño, and a pinch of salt. Process to a chunky consistency—do not over-process.
In a heavy bottomed sauté pan over medium heat, heat the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil.
Place the fish in the oven for 10 minutes and, meanwhile, sauté the cilantro/onion/walnut mixture in the pan.
Season with salt and add the ground spices. Cook gently over medium low heat for 10 minute or so, then remove the fish from the oven and pour the sauce and lemon juice over top.
Turn the oven heat down to 300° F and bake the fish and sauce gently for another 15 minutes. Serve whole on a platter garnished with lemon slices and a few reserved sprigs of cilantro.