How to make showstopping salmon tarator

Jill Dupleix
A side of salmon with tahini cream.
A side of salmon with tahini cream. Photo: William Meppem

This contemporary version of a traditional Arabic dish is blindingly simple to make, yet bright and beautiful enough for entertaining and al fresco dining.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.2kg side of king salmon or ocean trout, skin on, pin bones removed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp walnuts
  • 2 sesame snaps
  • 2 tbsp fresh pomegranate seeds, to serve

Tahini cream

  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 300g plain Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 garlic clove,
  • finely grated
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 to 2 tbsp lemon juice, or to taste
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Herb salad

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ red onion, very finely sliced
  • 1 cup loosely packed coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup loosely packed parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped preserved lemon
  • 1 tsp finely chopped jalapeno chilli

METHOD

1. Heat the oven to 90C fan-forced (110C conventional). Place the salmon or trout on a tray lined with baking paper. Coat with olive oil, season well and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until just cooked through. Remove and allow to cool.

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2. To make the tahini cream, blend the tahini, yoghurt, garlic, cumin, lemon juice and salt in a food processor until smooth and as thick as whipped cream. Taste for seasoning. If too thick, beat in 1 tablespoon ice-cold water.

3. To make the walnut-sesame crumble, toast the walnuts in a hot, dry pan for 5 minutes until fragrant. Cool and lightly crush with two sesame snaps using a mortar and pestle.

4. Clean and tidy the salmon or trout, scraping off any white albumen and draining off the juices. To remove the skin, invert the fish onto a tray, peel off the skin and invert once more onto a large serving plate.

5. To make the herb salad, whisk extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice, sea salt and pepper. Add the red onion, coriander leaves, parsley, preserved lemon and jalapeno chilli and lightly toss together.

6. Spread the tahini cream over the fish (serve any extra in a bowl alongside), strew with the herb salad and scatter with the walnut-sesame crumble and pomegranate seeds to serve.

Serves 6-8

Need to know

  • A side of king salmon or ocean trout is frosted with tahini cream, lightened with yoghurt, lemon juice and cumin, and scattered with herbs, pomegranate and a sesame-walnut mix.
  • The magic comes from the tahini, a rich paste made with ground sesame seeds. Look for the more common version of tahini made with hulled seeds rather than unhulled, which can be bitter.
  • Don't be scared to cook the salmon or trout at such a low temperature. Gentle cooking allows the flesh to set while remaining succulent and rosy-pink.
  • You may find the salmon releases a white coagulated protein called albumen. Scrape it off with a knife to keep things pretty.
  • Bake the fish and make the tahini cream ahead of time, then toss the herb salad together just before serving.

  • You can swap pomegranate for dried cranberries or fresh redcurrants, and walnuts for macadamias, pistachios or almonds.
  • For those who don't eat fish, use the same delicious tahini cream for chicken or spatchcock (pictured) roasted eggplant, butternut pumpkin or cauliflower steaks, and serve with cous cous or tabbouleh.
  • Any leftover fish is brilliant with avocado and a poached egg on toast, forked through a salad or flaked into curry-spiced rice kedgeree.

Tips

  • Remove any pin bones from the salmon with a pair of tweezers or ask your fishmonger to do it.
  • To check whether the fish is cooked, insert a sharp knife and lift a small portion to see inside. It should be soft and rosy pink.
  • Cut across into thick slices to serve, or simply flake using a large fork and spoon.

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