Pan-Seared Snapper With Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

Pan-Seared Snapper With Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

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


  • 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
  • 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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