This is not your average fried fish sandwich! Making a crispy fish sandwich recipe Egyptian-style means big flavor, color, texture, bold Mediterranean spices, creamy tahini sauce, fluffy pita bread, and fresh veggies.

Two fried fish sandwiches on a plate with sides of roasted eggplant slices, tomato, persian cucumber slices and a lemon wedge. In the background are small bowls of salt, pepper and olives.
Photo Credits: Katherine Irwin

This extra crispy fish sandwich recipe is inspired by a fried fish from my childhood, which we call Samak Makli. My mom made many variations, often frying whole fish. But this recipe works just as well with fish fillets, which are easier to serve in a pita pocket with a drizzle of garlicky tahini sauce and a colorful mix of fresh, roasted, and pickled vegetables.  

The fragrant mix of cumin, coriander, paprika, and a dash of hot pepper flakes is as essential as the lemon juice. Give the fish a few minutes in the fridge to marinate while you prepare the fixings. From there, you fry it to perfection until it’s flaky, crispy, and tender all at the same time! 

Loaded with flavor, color, and texture, this fried fish sandwich is on a whole other level of satisfying and delicious. Serve with pickles and tart Karkade (Hibiscus Tea) on the side.

Table of Contents
  1. Ingredients for Egyptian Fried Fish Sandwiches
    1. For the Crispy Fish
    2. To Serve
  2. Ingredient Spotlight
  3. How to Make an Egyptian-Style Fried Fish Sandwich
    1. Make the Roasted Eggplant Rounds (optional, up to 1 day in advance)
    2. Get Ready to Cook 
    3. Dredge and Fry the Fish
    4. Assemble the Sandwiches 
  4. Ways to Mix it Up
  5. What to Serve with Fish Sandwiches
  6. You'll Also Like: More Pita Sandwich Recipes
  7. Mediterranean Diet Starter Kit
  8. Egyptian Fried Fish Sandwich Recipe
ingredients for fried fish sandwiches including white fish fillets, coriander, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, garlic, lemon, olive oil, flour, corns starch, baking soda, persian cucumbers, tahini sauce, tomato, baby arugula, pita bread and olives.

Ingredients for Egyptian Fried Fish Sandwiches

If you’ve had fried fish before, you may have noticed its rich and savory nature needs a lot of acidity for balance. In the US that often looks like coleslaw, or in Britain malt vinegar. For Egyptians, we like to add a lot of flavor to the fish with spices, then layer on loads of fresh veggies, lemon juice, and pickles. The result is balanced and delicious. I know you’ll love it! You need: 

For the Crispy Fish

  • Fish: Use a mildly flavored, rather firm fish fillet, like cod or haddock.
  • Seasoning: The fish is spiced with a warm and earthy blend of coriander, cumin, paprika, and Aleppo pepper–You can stock up on all of these quintessential Mediterranean spices at our shop. Salt and pepper enhance the flavor.
  • Garlic adds a sweet and savory depth of flavor. 
  • Fresh lemon juice lightens the dish. 
  • Oil: You can use extra virgin olive oil but I understand that it’s expensive, so feel free to use a high-quality neutral oil like avocado oil or sunflower oil. 
  • Dredge: All-purpose flour, cornstarch, and baking soda coats the fish, ensuring it gets very crispy but not too heavy. 

To Serve

  • Roasted eggplant rounds (optional): Adds a velvety texture and rich Mediterranean flavor. To make it, you’ll need 1 large eggplant, extra virgin olive oil, and kosher salt.
  • Tahini sauce adds delicious creamy, garlicky flavor. To make it, you’ll need garlic, salt, tahini paste (stock up at our shop), lime or lemon juice, and parsley. 
  • Tomato, cucumbers, and arugula add freshness. Look for Persian cucumbers, which are sweeter with a tender skin. If you have a standard slicing cucumber, peel off the skin before slicing. 
  • Pita bread has the perfect pocket for holding the sandwich together. Use Homemade Pita Bread or a high quality store bought variety. 
  • Olives and/or pickles add a briny flavor. Use any variety you like, like pickled turnips, cucumbers, or red onions
A close up of a fried fish sandwich on a plate surrounded by slices persian cucumbers, olives and a lemon half.

Ingredient Spotlight

Let's talk about the power of sesame seeds. These tiny wonders serve as the foundation of Tahini, a nutty-tasting paste made from crushed sesame seeds. It is frequently used in North African and Middle Eastern countries and you'll find it a lot in Mediterranean cooking.

Most people are familiar with hummus, where tahini is a key ingredient. But it's also used to make Tahini Sauce like the one used in this Egyptian Fish Sandwich recipe or even in sweet recipes like this Vegan Chocolate Pudding with Tahini.

Think of tahini as your creamy flavor powerhouse. Good tahini should taste smooth and nutty (although it's a seed so there's no nuts!), and it can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.

How to Make an Egyptian-Style Fried Fish Sandwich

The fish fries quickly, so you’ll want to get all of your fixings ready before you start heating the oil. Here’s how to do it: 

Make the Roasted Eggplant Rounds (optional, up to 1 day in advance)

  • Sweat the eggplant. If you’re serving with the roasted eggplant, slice a large eggplant into ¾-inch to 1-inch rounds. Sprinkle both sides of the slices with salt and arrange on a large tray lined with paper towels. Leave for 30 minutes to allow the eggplant to "sweat." 
  • Get ready to roast: Arrange a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 400°F.
  • Roast the eggplant. Pat the eggplant slices dry and brush both sides generously with extra virgin olive oil. Discard the paper towels, then lightly oil the baking sheet and arrange eggplant slices on top, making sure to space them out well. Roast in a heated oven for 20 minutes, then flip and roast until the eggplant is golden brown all over, 10 to 15 minutes more. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in your refrigerator, allowing the eggplant to come to room temperature before serving. roasted eggplant slices on a baking sheet.

Get Ready to Cook 

  • Season the fish. Pat a 1 ½ pounds fish fillet dry, then slice it into 4 to 6 portions and place it in a shallow dish. In a small bowl, combine the 1 teaspoon coriander, cumin, paprika, and ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes. Add a generous dash of salt and pepper. Mix well, then sprinkle the fish evenly with the spices. Add 3 minced garlic cloves, then use your hands to rub in the spices and garlic. Squeeze the juice from two lemons over the fish, then refrigerate while you prepare the fixings and warm the oil (about 10 to 20 minutes). An overhead photo of seasoned, uncooked fish fillets in a baking dish surrounded by bowls of pepper, olives and salt, as well as a lemon halve.
  • Get your fixings ready. Prepare the tahini sauce according to this recipe. Thinly slice 2 to 3 Persian cucumbers and 1 large tomato. If you’re serving with olives, smash them with the side of your knife and remove their pits (if necessary.) Cut any pickles into sandwich-size pieces.Fried fish fixings, including pita bread, tahini, arugula, slices persian cucumbers, sliced tomato and a bowl of olives on a wooden cutting board.

Dredge and Fry the Fish

  • Dredge the fish. In a shallow dish, combine 1 cup flour, ½ cup cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon baking soda. Mix well, then remove the fish from the fridge and coat each fillet on both sides with the flour mixture. Shake gently to get rid of excess flour. An overhead photo of seasoned, uncooked white fish fillets in a baking dish. Next to this is a fillet being dredged the flour mixture in a bowl with a fork, and a small bowl of pepper.
  • Fry the fish. Line a large plate with paper towels and set near your stove. In a medium nonstick skillet, add enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet by about 2-inches. Heat over medium heat until the oil begins to bubble, then gently arrange the fish in the skillet. The oil may not cover the fish fully, and that is okay, but if your skillet is too small to fit all the fish do this in batches, replenishing the oil as necessary. Cook on one side until golden brown, about 3 minutes, then use a spatula to carefully flip the fish. Cook on the other side until crispy and golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes more.  Fish fillets being fried in oil in a skillet.
  • Drain. Use the spatula to transfer the fish to the paper towel-lined plate. Hit it with lemon juice from the remaining lemon immediately.

Assemble the Sandwiches 

  • Layer and dig in! To finish up this fried fish sandwich recipe, open up the pita pockets and spread a bit of the tahini sauce on one side of the pita. Add the tomatoes, cucumber, a handful of arugula, some pickles, and a couple of roasted eggplant slices, if using. Add the fish and finish with more tahini sauce. Serve immediately, with extra olives and/or pickles on the side for snacking between bites! A close up of two fried fish sandwiches on a plate with sides of roasted eggplant slices, tomato, and a lemon wedge.

Ways to Mix it Up

You can serve this fried fish sandwich recipe many different ways. Here are some ideas:

  • Make it spicy: Spread a layer of harissa sauce onto the pita (homemade or from our shop). 
  • Grill the fish: Skip the dredge and grill the fish instead for a summery meal. Use this grilled cod recipe as a guide.
  • Swap in chicken cutlets: Fry for about 3 minutes per side. 
  • Make it a bowl: Skip the pita and serve with lemon rice (or quinoa for gluten-free) Mediterranean tomato and cucumber salad, tahini sauce, and fried or roasted eggplant. 
Two fried fish sandwiches on a plate with sides of roasted eggplant slices, tomato, persian cucumber slices and a lemon wedge. In the background is a small bowl of olives, and a small bowl of salt.

What to Serve with Fish Sandwiches

In the Mediterranean, crispy fish sandwiches are often served with a very tart drink that acts as a pallet cleanser of sorts for the richness of the fried fish—even pickle juice in some cases! But an iced Karkade (Hibiscus Tea) is also a refreshing option that’s nice and tart.

I love small bowls on the side with olives and/or pickles, like my Middle Eastern Pickled Turnips and fresh fruit like sliced watermelon when it’s juicy and in-season. 

You'll Also Like: More Pita Sandwich Recipes

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Mediterranean Diet starter kit, with olive oil, spices, and tahini.
4.82 from 11 votes

Egyptian Fried Fish Sandwich

Suzy Karadsheh of The Mediterranean Dish. In the kitchenSuzy Karadsheh
A close up of a fried fish sandwich on a plate surrounded by slices persian cucumbers, olives and a lemon half.
This crispy fish sandwich recipe is inspired by Samak Makli, a much loved fried fish my childhood. This twist makes it a bit easier with spiced and citrus-marinated fish fillets, which get just as crispy, delicious, and loaded with flavor. The caramelized eggplant rounds add yet another layer of flavor and texture but are very much optional–and feel free to get ahead by making them the day before. Serve with pickles and tart Karkade (Hibiscus Tea) on the side.
Prep – 15 minutes
Cook – 10 minutes
Total – 25 minutes
Cuisine:
Egyptian
Serves – 6 to 4
Course:
Entree, Lunch

Ingredients
  

For the Roasted Eggplant Rounds (Optional)

For the Crispy Fish

  • 11/2 pounds fish fillet, preferably cod or haddock, sliced into 4 to 6 portions
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 3 large garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 3 large lemons, halved
  • Oil, for frying (see note)

For the Fish Dredge

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

To Serve

  • Tahini sauce
  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 to 3 Persian cucumbers
  • 2 to 3 cups baby arugula
  • Pita bread, halved to make 4 to 6 pita pockets
  • Olives and/or pickles

Instructions
 

Optional: Make the Roasted Eggplant Rounds (up to 1 day in advance)

  • Sweat the eggplant. If you’re serving with the roasted eggplant, slice the eggplant into ¾-inch to 1-inch rounds. Sprinkle both sides of each slice with salt and arrange on a large tray lined with paper towels. Leave for 30 minutes to allow the eggplant to "sweat."
  • Get ready to roast: Arrange a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 400°F.
  • Roast the eggplant. Pat the eggplant slices dry and brush both sides generously with extra virgin olive oil. Discard the paper towels, then lightly oil the baking sheet and arrange eggplant slices on top, making sure to space them out well. Roast in heated oven for 20 minutes, then flip and roast until the eggplant is golden brown all over, 10 to 15 minutes more. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in your refrigerator, allowing the eggplant to come to room temperature before serving.

Get Ready to Cook

  • Season the fish. Pat the fish dry and place it in a shallow dish. In a small bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, paprika, and Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes, and a generous dash of salt and pepper. Mix well, then sprinkle the fish evenly with the spices. Add the garlic, then use your hands to rub in the spices and garlic. Squeeze the juice from two lemons over the fish, then refrigerate while you prepare the fixings and warm the oil (about 10 to 20 minutes).
  • Get your fixings ready. Prepare the tahini sauce according to this recipe. Thinly slice the cucumber and tomato. If you’re serving with olives, smash them with the side of your knife and remove their pits (if necessary.) Cut any pickles into sandwich-size pieces.

Dredge and Fry the Fish

  • Dredge the fish. In a shallow dish, combine the flour, cornstarch, and baking soda. Mix well, then remove the fish from the fridge and coat each fillet on both sides with the flour mixture. Shake gently to get rid of excess flour.
  • Fry the fish. Line a large plate with paper towels and set near your stove. In a medium nonstick skillet, add enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet by about 2-inches. Heat over medium heat until the oil begins to bubble, then gently arrange the fish in the skillet. The oil may not cover the fish fully, and that is okay, but if your skillet is too small to fit all the fish do this in batches, replenishing the oil as necessary. Cook on one side until golden brown, about 3 minutes, then use a spatula to carefully flip the fish. Cook on the other side until crispy and golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes more.
  • Drain. Use the spatula to transfer the fish to the paper towel-lined plate. Hit it with lemon juice from the remaining lemon immediately.

Assemble the Sandwiches

  • Layer and dig in! Open up the pita pockets and spread a bit of the tahini sauce on one side of the pita. Add the tomatoes, cucumber, arugula, pickles and a couple of roasted eggplant slices, if using. Add the fish and finish with more tahini sauce. Serve immediately, with extra olives and/or pickles on the side for snacking between bites!

Video

Notes

  • Estimated time does not include the optional eggplant rounds. 
  • Make ahead: You can make the eggplant and tahini sauce the night before and keep them covered (separately) in your fridge. 
  • Make it a bowl: Skip the pita and serve with lemon rice (or quinoa for gluten-free) Mediterranean tomato and cucumber salad, tahini sauce, and fried or roasted eggplant. 
  • Yes, you can use extra virgin olive oil for frying–learn all about cooking with olive oil in our guide: Cooking With Olive Oil: Everything You Need To Know. But I understand that it’s expensive, so feel free to use a high quality neutral oil like avocado oil or sunflower oil.
  • Wait for your oil to get hot! This will ensure the fish gets nice and crispy, rather than soggy. To test the temperature, add a pinch of flour to the oil. It should sizzle and bubble.
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams, and spices.

Nutrition

Calories: 307.2kcalCarbohydrates: 48.4gProtein: 26.3gFat: 1.9gSaturated Fat: 0.3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.8gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 48.8mgSodium: 333.3mgPotassium: 899.7mgFiber: 6.4gSugar: 5.7gVitamin A: 641.3IUVitamin C: 36.3mgCalcium: 70.4mgIron: 3.1mg
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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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4.82 from 11 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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Comments

  1. Marni says:

    4 stars
    Looks simply healthy and appetizing

    1. TMD Team says:

      It's delish, Marni! Hope you give it a try!

  2. Melodie says:

    5 stars
    I made these tonight, so good! We had pickeled onions, kalamata olives, cucumbers and arugula as toppings along with the tahini sauce and roasted eggplant. Will be making these again, thank you for another great recipe!

    1. TMD Team says:

      I love to hear that! Thanks for coming back to comment and review, Melodie!

  3. Gayle L says:

    5 stars
    yummy! I used Cod and the fish had so much flavor. Didn't use the eggplant because I didn't have any. Still turned out fantastic. Will make again. Thank you for the recipes.

    1. TMD Team says:

      Thanks so much for taking the time to review, Gayle! Appreciate it!

  4. Doris says:

    Could you make this recipe gluten free by only using corn starch in the breading?

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Doris. If you are going to attempt to make this one gluten free, I would recommend substituting the regular flour with gluten-free flour, rather than using all cornstarch. We've never tested a gluten free version of this, so if you give it a try, please stop back and share your thoughts!! We'd love to know how it worked out for you.

  5. Brenda J says:

    I’m wondering if I could make it on the air fryer if I sprayed both sides of the breaded fish with oil?

  6. Felicia says:

    4 stars
    Looks delicious! Can the fish be cookEd in an air fryer?

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi Felicia. I think it could work, but we've never tested this in the air fryer, so it's hard to give advice on time/temp. If you want to give it a try, I'd refer to the recipe book that came with your air fryer as a guide.

  7. Dotti says:

    This sounds yummy, but can you provide instructions on cooking the fish in the air fryer? What temperature and for how long?

    1. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Dotti. I think it could work, but we've never tested this in the air fryer, so it's hard to give advice on time/temp. If you want to give it a try, I'd refer to the recipe book that came with your air fryer as a guide.

  8. felicity says:

    5 stars
    How can I save recipes that are my very favourites like this one for example ?

  9. Brenda J says:

    This sounds delicious! I’m wondering if I spray both sides of the breaded fish with olive oil if I could cook them in an air fryer?

    1. felicity says:

      I would like to know too as I just got a ninja speedi

    2. TMD Team says:

      Hi, Brenda. That might work! I would just refer to the instruction manual/recipe book that came with your air fryer as a guide. If you give it a try, please stop back and let use know how it went!

  10. felicity says:

    5 stars
    I love fish and I'm growing aubergines purple salad onions garlic tomatoes and corriander and sweet romaine lettuce this year along with many other things such as fresh parsley basil thyme sage lemon balm .I'm looking forward to using some in your recipes

  11. marcy says:

    5 stars
    can't wait to make this recipe, sounds great, I love ALL your recipes, thank you!!!

    1. TMD Team says:

      Thanks so much, Marcy!