Pan-Seared Snapper With Tahini-Yogurt Sauce 2.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Dinner in Minutes May 27, 2015

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

Served with a side of freshly cooked spring peas or fava beans, a 4-ounce 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.

2 - 4

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: 2-4 servings

  • For the fish
  • Four 4-ounce skin-on red snapper fillets (fresh or frozen/defrosted), preferably from the Gulf of Mexico, pin bones removed
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Few grinds black pepper
  • Pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • Leaves from 4 stems flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • For the sauce
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon 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 prep 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. Puree 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 1 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 3 minutes, until crisped on the bottom, then use two thin spatulas to carefully flip them over and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on the second side, so the flesh is opaque and just flaky at the center.

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

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Recipe Source

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

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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