Chile Fish With Tahini 4.000

Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post; food styling by Amanda Soto/The Washington Post

Oct 29, 2018

Creamy tahini elevates the spicy tomato sauce for this tender, pan-poached fish.

To read the accompanying story, see: 11 ingredients to add to your pantry and channel Ottolenghi’s favorite flavors.

Make Ahead: The tahini sauce can be refrigerated up to 3 days in advance.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • Salt
  • 1 3/4 pounds halibut or other thick white-fleshed fish fillets (skinless)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 or 2 small red chiles, mostly seeded and then cut crosswise into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons caraway seed
  • 1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika (pimenton); may substitute 1 dried ancho chile, seeded and torn into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 pounds 2 ounces roma tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons tahini, well stirred
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped


Use a rounded 1/4 teaspoon of the salt to season the fillets.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the red chiles (to taste) and cook for 2 minutes, stirring, then add the garlic, caraway seed and smoked paprika. Cook for 1 minute, until the garlic begins to turn brown, then stir in the chopped tomatoes and their juices, the tomato paste, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Once the mixture begins to bubble at the edges, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the fillets, cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes, or until the fish is opaque and just cooked through. (It should be moist, and barely flake under the tines of a fork.)

Whisk together the tahini sauce and lemon juice, water and 1/8 teaspoon of salt in a liquid measuring cup, until well blended.

When ready to serve, gently transfer the fillets to a warmed serving dish and cover loosely with aluminum foil. If the fish has released a lot of liquid and made the sauce somewhat thin/runny, increase the heat to medium or medium-high and cook it down to your desired consistency. Taste the sauce, and add more salt, as needed.

Uncover the fish; spoon the warm tomato sauce over and around it, then drizzle the tahini sauce over it. Scatter the cilantro on top, and serve.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Ottolenghi Simple," by Yotam Ottolenghi with Tara Wigley and Esme Howarth (Ten Speed Press, 2018).

Tested by Miriam Albert.

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