Sekenjabin is a sweet and sour Iranian syrup typically served in summertime as a syrupy beverage, chilled and diluted with water or used as a refreshing dip for crisp lettuce leaves. In this recipe, it’s mixed with chopped cucumber, sweet onion and red bell pepper and served over grilled, meaty fish. This recipe makes enough to reserve some in the refrigerator for both of its traditional uses as well.

FOR THE SEKENJABIN:
2 cups sugar or 1½ cups honey
½ cup white wine vinegar
1 lime, zest removed in wide strips and juiced
1 large bunch of fresh mint, leaves and stems washed

FOR THE SALSA:
1 medium cucumber, diced small
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced small
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced small
Salt

FOR THE FISH:
20-24 ounces swordfish or tuna steaks
Olive oil
12-16 crisp lettuce leaves for dipping
Warm flatbread for serving

To make the sekenjabin, combine the sugar or honey and 2 cups water in a medium saucepan. Place on medium heat and stir until the sugar or honey is dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and lime zest and simmer until the syrup thickens to the consistency of maple syrup, about 20 minutes more. Pick a good handful of mint leaves from the bunch and set those aside. Throw the remaining stems and leaves into the syrup. Simmer for 2 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Let the mixture sit in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, strain the syrup. Compost the spent mint and lime. Store sekenjabin in the refrigerator.
To make the salsa, finely chop the reserved mint leaves and put them in a bowl with 1 cup sekenjabin, the lime juice, cucumber, onion and bell pepper. Season with salt to taste.
To cook the fish, first prepare a grill with a medium fire. Season the fish with salt and let rest 20 minutes. Drizzle the fish with olive oil and grill it until it’s cooked to your liking. I like to cook 1-inch thick swordfish steaks about 5-6 minutes per side. I like my tuna a bit on the rare side, so it sits on the grill for 6 minutes on the first side, but only 2 or 3 on the second. Let fish rest 5 minutes before serving with the salsa, lettuce leaves and flatbread


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