Chile Fish with Tahini Recipe

We love all of Yotam Ottolenghi's simple, Middle Eastern-inspired recipes, and this vibrant, spicy fish dish is our new favorite way of cooking fish. It's quick and made for midweek meals.

"There are very few things, in my book, that aren’t improved by a drizzle of creamy tahini sauce. Here it makes perfect sense, balancing the chile and bringing a welcome creaminess.
I tend to make double the tomato sauce and keep the excess in the fridge for 1 week, or the freezer for 1 month, so you can either make this dish twice or spoon it alongside some grilled chicken or veg. The tahini sauce can be made 3 days ahead and kept in the fridge."

Reprinted with permission from Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, copyright © 2018. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photography credit: Jonathan Lovekin © 2018. Buy online at Book Depository.

Serves 4.


  • 1¾ lbs halibut (or other firm white fish), either 4 steaks, on the bone, or 4 fillets, skinless and boneless
  • salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 or 2 red chiles, chopped crosswise into ¾-inch chunks, mostly seeded
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds, plus ¼ tsp, to serve
  • 1 ancho chile, trimmed, seeded and torn into 2-inch pieces (or 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika)
  • 2 lbs 2 oz plum tomatoes, chopped into ½-inch dice
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ½ tsp granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, to serve


  • 3 tbsp tahini

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

  • ¼ cup water

  • Salt


  1. Lightly season the fish with a rounded ¼ tsp of salt. Set aside.
  2. Put the oil into a large sauté pan with a lid and place over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the red chiles and fry for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, caraway seeds, and ancho, and continue to fry for 1 minute, until the garlic is starting to turn golden brown. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, and ½ tsp salt, then, once boiling, decrease the heat to medium and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the sauce is thick. Add the fish, cover the pan, and continue to cook for 10 minutes.
  3. To make the tahini sauce, mix the tahini and lemon juice with the water and ⅛ tsp salt.
  4. When ready to serve, gently lift the fish out of the pan and set aside somewhere warm. If the fish has released a lot of liquid during the cooking and the sauce is runny, increase the heat and let it bubble away quickly until thick. Taste and add salt if needed.
  5. Transfer the fish to a serving dish. Spoon on the sauce, sprinkle with the cilantro, and serve.