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Feseekh and Melouha فسيخ و ملوحة

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Feseekh and Melouha فسيخ و ملوحة

Two salted fish specialities that are exclusively Egyptian, are Feseekh, and Melouha.

Feseekh فسيخ

Feseekh in English can be transliterated into various forms, such as fisikh, fesikh, ...etc.

It is a semi-putrid form of salted and dried Grey Mullet species (Mugil spp.), a saltwater fish that lives in both the Mediterranean and the Red Seas.

The traditional process of preparing it is to dry the fish in the sun before being preserved in salt. It has a distinctive stench to it, that only its true lovers would appreciate.

The process of preparing feseekh is quite elaborate, passing from father to son in certain family. The occupation has a special name in Egypt, fasakhani فسخاني

Feseekh is traditionally eaten during Sham El Neseem شم النسيم ("Smelling the Breeze"), which is a spring celebration from ancient times in Egypt.

Every year, just before Sham El Neseem, there is a scare about feseekh consumption, and its dangers. This is not unfounded, because when prepared or stored incorrectly, Feseekh can be indeed deadly, due to toxins by food poisoning bacteria. Baldwin I, King of Jerusalem learned that the hard way, meeting his death after a feseekh meal in Egypt's north. Footnote 3 on this page on Sinai's history goes into more detail on the debate on the identiy of the Baldwin in question.

Some consider feseekh part of the good things of Egypt. Personally, I never eat it, because of the stench.

Melouha ملوحة

Melouha is considered a delicacy in the south (Upper Egypt). It is a freshwater fish called Seer (صير), which I do not know the exact English name for, but it seems to be from the Chad family.

Melouha is known to be very salty.

Research on Feseekh and Melouha

Research into odd subjects never ends.

Here are two fairly recent research papers by Egyptians about Feseekh (putrid salted Grey Mullet popular in the spring festival known as Sham El Neseem in Egypt) and Melouha (salted fish, popular in Upper Egypt).

Wonders never cease ...

STUDIES ON MICROORGANISMS CONTAMINATED SALTED FISH IN EGYPT

El-Tahan, M.H.; Hassan, S.A.; El-Awamry, Z.K. and Hamza, A.S.

Central Lab. for Food & Feed (CLFF), Agricultural Research Central, Egypt

J. Union Arab Biol., Cairo, Vol. 6(B), 339-352, 1998

270 samples of Feseekh, Melouha and Sardine (90 samples of each) were collected from Cairo markets over a period started from January 1997 to March 1998. The samples were purchased from nine main markets representing three socio-economic levels (high, medium and low). The two main factors studied were the season (summer and winter) and the sites according to the socio-economic levels. All samples were subjected to microbiological examinations to determine their hygienic quality. Results showed under all studied factors that, the total bacterial count, Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli count were higher than the acceptable limit. All the samples under observation were free from Salmonella, Clostridia and mycotoxines.

STUDIES OF SOME HEAVY METALS AND NUTRITIVE VALUES IN SALTED FISH IN EGYPT

El-Tahan, M.H.; Hassan, S.A.; El-Awamry, Zeinab K. and Hamza, Akila S.

Central Lab. for Food and Feed (CLFF), Agricultural Research Center, Giza, Egypt.

J. Egypt. Ger. Soc. Zool., Vol. 29(A), 41-54, 1999.

Samples of Feseekh, Melouha and Sardine were collected from Cairo markets over a period started from January 1997 to March 1998. 270 samples were purchased from nine main markets representing three socio-economic levels (high, medium and low). Two main factors were studied: seasonal effect (summer and winter) and the sites according to the socio-economic levels. Samples were subjected to analysis for the detection of protein, fat, ash, heavy metals, histamine and amino acids. Results showed that mean protein content on dry matter basis was 54.62, 46.55 and 44.28% for Feseekh, Melouha and Sardine, respectively. Also it was revealed that, sites had a significant effect on protein content. The pickling process has a great effect on the quality of salted fish protein, where a reduction of some amino acids such as lysine, methionine and cystine was recorded. Cadmium and lead content in the examined samples were higher than the permissible level.