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Pan Seared Salmon with Sweet Tahini Sauce

This pan seared salmon with sweet tahini sauce is an elegant, one-skillet meal that combines tender salmon with a creamy tahini and honey sauce. To gild the lily, the crispy skinned salmon is crowned with toasted pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, and fresh parsley.

Four pieces of pan seared salmon in a sweet tahini sauce, topped with pomegranate and pine nuts.

Adapted from Hanady Nabut | Mediterranea | Page Street Publishing, 2022

Tahini and fish almost always go together in the Levant. However, an uncooked tahini sauce is usually served alongside other mezze dishes on the final table. I like to simmer tahini and honey, which quickly reduce into a delicious sauce.

While I used to poach the salmon in the sauce, I now prefer to sear it to get a nice crispy, golden crust. This is a simple dish that will leave a lasting impression.–Hanady Nabut

Pan Seared Salmon with Sweet Tahini Sauce FAQs

What is tahini?

Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds. The paste is a staple in the cuisines of the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

What if I can’t find pomegranate molasses?

If you’re having a hard time finding pomegranate molasses, you can easily make your own. Combine 4 cups of pomegranate juice, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1-2 Tablespoons of lemon juice, and simmer on low for about an hour until the liquid has reduced and the mixture has a syrupy texture. Store leftovers in the fridge. You can use it for this and other recipes, or mix it with sparkling waters and sodas for a refreshing treat.

What should I serve with salmon?

A quick read of our testers’ comments should help. They suggest simple, plain, or delicately seasoned grains like white rice, couscous, or farro, with naan or flatbread, and perhaps some roasted vegetables. Nothing with strong, bold flavors that will compete with the main course.

How do I stop my salmon from sticking to the pan?

There are a couple of tips to help you get your salmon to release cleanly from the pan when it’s time to flip it.

First, let your salmon sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before cooking. Make sure it’s fully patted dry before cooking. And lastly, don’t fiddle with it while it’s cooking; let a good crust develop, and it will release easily from the pan.

Pan Seared Salmon with Sweet Tahini Sauce

Four pieces of pan seared salmon in a sweet tahini sauce, topped with pomegranate and pine nuts.

Crispy-skinned pan fried salmon and creamy tahini sauce are a perfect match. Toasted pine nuts and sweet pomegranate seeds add delicate crunch to round out the dish.

Hanady Nabut

Prep 20 mins

Cook 30 mins

Total 50 mins

For the sweet tahini sauce

For the pan seared salmon

Make the sweet tahini sauce

  • In a medium bowl, whisk the tahini, lemon juice, honey, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and water until smooth.

Make the pan seared salmon

  • Season each salmon fillet with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  • In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of olive oil. When the oil is hot, place the salmon pieces, skin side up, in the pan. Cook the fish for 3 minutes, reduce the heat to medium, gently flip the salmon, and cook it for 4 minutes more. Transfer the salmon to a plate.

    If your salmon fillets are thicker or thinner than 1 1/4 inches (3 cm), you’ll need to adjust the cooking time slightly.

  • Add 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of olive oil to the skillet and stir in the onion. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until translucent, stirring often, 10 to 12 minutes.

  • Stir in the garlic and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Pour in the prepared tahini sauce and simmer until it begins to thicken, 3 to 5 minutes.

    If the sauce becomes too thick, thin with water, 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches a smooth consistency.

  • Return the salmon fillets to the skillet and cook until heated through and the fish flakes easily, 1 to 2 minutes.

  • Serve with pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, parsley, and pomegranate molasses.

Serving: 1portionCalories: 554kcal (28%)Carbohydrates: 14g (5%)Protein: 38g (76%)Fat: 39g (60%)Saturated Fat: 6g (38%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 11gMonounsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 94mg (31%)Sodium: 813mg (35%)Potassium: 1018mg (29%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 6g (7%)Vitamin A: 87IU (2%)Vitamin C: 12mg (15%)Calcium: 66mg (7%)Iron: 3mg (17%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Originally published August 5, 2022

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