A Smoky Delicacy from the Tigris: Masgouf (Grilled Fish)


Imagine the aroma of smoky, charred fish wafting through the air, tantalizing your senses with its irresistible allure. This is Masgouf, a traditional Iraqi dish that has been delighting palates for centuries, bringing the rich flavors of the Tigris River to your table.

A Smoky Delicacy from the Tigris: Masgouf (Grilled Fish)

Preparation Details

  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Number of Servings and Serving Size

  • Servings: 4
  • Serving Size: 1 whole fish or 2 fillets

Nutritional Information (per serving)

  • Calories: 350
  • Total Fat: 18g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.5g
  • Cholesterol: 120mg
  • Sodium: 480mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Protein: 42g


  • 4 whole fresh river fish (such as carp or sheepen), cleaned and scaled (1.5-2 lbs each)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sumac
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 lemons, halved
  • Flatbread or rice, for serving

Detailed Method of Preparation

  1. Prepare the fish: Rinse the fish under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Using a sharp knife, score the fish diagonally on both sides, making shallow cuts about 1 inch apart.
  2. Season the fish: In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, sumac, salt, and black pepper. Rub the mixture generously over the fish, ensuring it coats the flesh and the scored areas.
  3. Set up the grill: Prepare a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to high heat. If using a charcoal grill, arrange the hot coals on one side of the grill to create a direct and indirect heat zone.
  4. Grill the fish: Place the fish on the grill grate, skin-side down, over direct heat. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and charred. Using tongs, carefully flip the fish and move it to the indirect heat zone. Cover the grill and cook for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
  5. Serve: Transfer the grilled fish to a serving platter and garnish with lemon halves. Serve hot, with flatbread or rice on the side.

Tips for Culinary Success

  • Use fresh, whole fish for the best flavor and texture.
  • Score the fish deeply to allow the marinade to penetrate the flesh.
  • Control the heat of the grill to ensure the fish cooks evenly without burning.
  • Baste the fish with the marinade or melted butter while grilling for extra moisture and flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I use frozen fish instead of fresh?

A: While fresh fish is recommended for the best taste and texture, you can use high-quality frozen fish if it's thawed properly.

Q: Can I substitute sumac with another spice?

A: Sumac has a unique tangy flavor, but you can substitute it with lemon zest or a blend of paprika and cumin for a similar effect.

Q: How do I know when the fish is cooked through?

A: The fish should be opaque throughout and easily flake when pierced with a fork. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part should read 145°F (63°C).

As the smoke dissipates and the last bite of this delectable Masgouf vanishes from your plate, you'll be left with a lingering sense of satisfaction, having experienced a true culinary delight from the banks of the Tigris River.