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.
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.