According to author Maureen Abood, a recipe that marries tahini, cayenne and fish appears in most Lebanese cookbooks. But it’s a relatively new flavour combination to me — and one I’ll be repeating often.

Served with a side of freshly cooked spring peas or fava beans, a 115-gram portion of beautifully fresh red snapper will satisfy. But if you keep things simple and spare, or start with a soup and have only the fish and its sauce, allow for two sauced fillets per person.


Servings: 2 to 4


Adapted from Abood’s “Rose Water & Orange Blossoms: Fresh & Classic Recipes From My Lebanese Kitchen” (Running Press, 2015).



For the fish

Four 115-gram skin-on red snapper fillets (fresh or frozen/defrosted), pin bones removed

1/4 tsp kosher salt

Few grinds of black pepper

A pinch of ground cayenne pepper

1/4 cup pine nuts

Leaves from four stems of flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

1 tbs salted butter

1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil


For the sauce

1 small clove of garlic

1/2 tsp kosher salt, or more as needed

3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt

1/3 cup tahini, or more as needed

1 lemon



For the fish: Season the fish on both sides with the salt and the black and cayenne peppers. Let it sit while you prepare other ingredients.

Toast the pine nuts in a large skillet (preferably a well-seasoned cast-iron pan) over medium-low heat for a few minutes, shaking the pan to avoid scorching, until they are fragrant and golden brown. Transfer to a plate to cool.

Finely chop the parsley.


For the sauce: Smash the garlic and place it in a mini food processor, along with the salt, yogurt and tahini. Purée until well incorporated. Cut the lemon in half; squeeze in the juice and pulse just until blended. Taste, and add tahini and/or salt, as needed. The yield is one generous cup.

Return the skillet to the stove top; increase the heat to medium-high. Add the butter and oil; once the butter is foamy, lay in the fillets, skin side down. Cook for about three minutes, until crisped on the bottom, then use two thin spatulas to carefully flip them over and cook for two to three minutes on the second side, so the flesh is opaque and just flaky at the centre.

Transfer to a platter. Drizzle with the sauce, then sprinkle with the pine nuts and parsley. Serve right away.


Nutrition per serving (based on four, using half the sauce): 300 calories, 27g protein, 6g carbohydrates, 19g fat, 4g saturated fat, 50mg cholesterol, 240mg sodium, 1g dietary fibre, 2g sugar

— Washington Post