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Melting salmon in fragrant salt, tarator style

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for Melting salmon in fragrant salt, tarator style

By Gregory Llewellyn
  • Serves 8
  • 35 mins preparation
  • 30 mins cooking plus cooling, marinating, resting
Melting salmon in fragrant salt, tarator style
Melting salmon in fragrant salt, tarator style

"Slow cooking produces butter-soft salmon that almost dissolves in the mouth. Tarator, from Lebanon and Syria, is a garnish of tahini sauce and fried nuts for baked fish." Greg Malouf, MoMo


  • 1 side salmon (about 1.4kg), skinless, pin-boned, at room temperature
  • 80 ml extra-virgin olive oil (⅓ cup)
Fragrant salt
  • 2 tbsp sea salt flakes
  • ½ tsp each cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom seeds, fennel seeds and nigella seeds, finely ground
  • ½ tsp sesame seeds, toasted
Tarator crust
  • 100 gm walnuts
  • 2 small Spanish onions, very finely diced
  • 1 cup coriander, shredded (firmly packed)
  • ½ cup mint, shredded (firmly packed)
  • 1 long red chilli, seeds removed, very finely chopped
  • 3 tsp sumac
Tahini sauce
  • 100 gm thick plain yoghurt
  • 30 gm unhulled tahini
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed with ½ tsp sea salt


  • 1
    For fragrant salt, dry-roast ingredients in a frying pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant (1-2 minutes), then cool. Fragrant salt will keep stored in an airtight container for 6 months.
  • 2
    Trim tail ends of salmon, then trim belly by 1.5cm to form an even rectangle. Place on an oven tray, season both sides generously with fragrant salt, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to marinate (1 hour).
  • 3
    Meanwhile, for tarator crust, preheat oven to 200C. Spread walnuts on an oven tray and roast, stirring occasionally, until golden (4-5 minutes), finely chop, combine in a bowl with remaining ingredients and refrigerate.
  • 4
    Meanwhile, for tahini sauce, combine yoghurt and tahini in a bowl, stir in lemon juice and garlic mixture, season to taste and refrigerate until required.
  • 5
    Reduce oven to 80C fan-forced or lowest possible setting. Rinse salmon under cold running water, pat dry with absorbent paper, cut into 8 even portions, then brush all over with 30ml olive oil. Wrap each portion in baking paper to form a parcel, place skin-side down on an oven tray and bake for 12 minutes. Open parcel, carefully turn salmon, reseal parcel and bake for another 12 minutes. Rest for 10 minutes, unwrap salmon, then gently scrape away grey bloodline with a knife. Brush both sides of salmon portions thickly with tahini sauce, press one side into tarator crust and transfer to a platter. Combine lemon juice with remaining oil in a bowl and season to taste, then drizzle over salmon and serve.


This recipe is from the February 2012 issue of .
Drink Suggestion: 2008 Yering Station Chardonnay.

  • Author: Gregory Llewellyn