Persian Lime-Poached Seafood Stew Over Herbed Basmati Rice

updated Jan 29, 2020
Persian Lime-Poached Seafood Stew Over Herbed Basmati Rice
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

As part of Kitchn’s celebration of all things California, we asked 19 cooks from various disciplines — chefs, photographers, writers — to see what dish they think best embodies California home cooking in 2019. See all the recipes here.

This unfussy but richly flavored seafood stew from Edible San Diego executive digital editor and The Food of Oman author Felicia Campbell marries the flavors of California’s thriving Persian population with the Golden State’s tendency to use local, sustainable ingredients and let them shine in simple preparations.

Felicia explains, “This recipe is my California version of Omani Paplou soup, a bright seafood soup flavored with musky dried Persian limes, which can be found at any Middle Eastern or Iranian grocery store. Here in California, I swap in local halibut and mahi mahi in place of the tuna steaks we used in Oman, and I like to make it spicy with the addition of chili-garlic paste. I also double the cilantro and often, taking a cue from my Persian relatives, add bunches of extra herbs I have in the fridge (can there be too much fresh herb in anything?). 

“The recipe takes less than 30 minutes (key to our easy-going approach to the kitchen here) and is super-forgiving and flexible so cooks can tweak to suit their taste for spice or citrus or seasonality.”

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Persian Lime-Poached Seafood Stew Over Herbed Basmati Rice

Prep time 20 minutes to 25 minutes

Cook time 47 minutes to 52 minutes

Serves 2 to 4

Nutritional Info


  • 3 cloves


  • 1

    (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    ground turmeric, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup

    fresh cilantro (or any fresh herbs you like), chopped

  • 1

    dried lime (also known as Limoo Omani, Persian lime or black lime)

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1

    plum tomato, cored and diced

  • 1

    small or 1/2 medium red onion, diced

  • 1/4 cup

    freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon

    Vietnamese chili garlic paste or crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1 pound

    seasonal, sustainable lean, firm-flesh fish fillets (traditionally tuna is used, but now I use halibut, mahi mahi, or even spot prawns when they are in season), cut into 1 1/2–inch pieces

For serving:

  • Cooked basmati rice

  • Lime wedges

  • 1 cup

    chopped fresh cilantro (or any fresh herbs you like)


  1. In a small food processor or using a mortar and pestle, make a paste of the garlic, ginger, 1/4 teaspoon of the turmeric, salt, cilantro, and 1 1/2 tablespoons water.

  2. Scrub the Persian dried lime and soak for a few minutes in water to soften the skin. Make a small hole by piercing it with a paring knife.

  3. Bring 4 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the black pepper and remaining 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and boil for 2 minutes. Add the tomato and boil for 5 minutes. Add the onion and boil for 5 minutes more.

  4. Stir in the lime juice, garlic-ginger paste, chili paste or red pepper flakes, and dried lime. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook 15 minutes.

  5. Remove the lime to avoid making the soup bitter. Add the fish and gently stir; cover and simmer until the fish is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes more. Serve over cooked basmati rice topped with more fresh herbs and lime wedges on the side.

Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from Paplou (Citrusy Seafood Soup with Basmati Rice) in “The Food of Oman” (Andrews McMeel, 2015).