Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Basic Tahini-Lemon Sauce, with Fish

Looking to add a new flavor to some of your basic recipes?

This sauce balances the rich nuttiness of tahini against the acidity of fresh lemon - a classic Palestinian combination.  (Read about all of the nourishing benefits of tahini here).  I love this sauce because it is so very versatile.  Drizzle over fish or chicken, pour over vegetables, use as a dressing for a salad or a sandwich - Palestinians use this sauce in many ways.  You already may have tried this sauce over kefta, a Palestinian meatloaf, but if you haven't, you should.  Sometimes without the parsley, this also makes a simple stand-alone dip for Arabic bread.  It is also the base for other dips, such as hummus and baba ghanoush. 

This easy sauce uses two little tricks: the first is to paste the garlic so that you do not crunch down on chunks of garlic in the sauce, and the second is to beat the tahini with the lemon juice until it becomes pale and creamy.

Tahini-Lemon Sauce

2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup tahini
2 or more fresh lemons OR 1/2 cup lemon juice, plus a little extra to taste
1 tsp sea salt
Cold water
1/4 cup chopped parsley

1.  Here's how to make garlic paste:  Mince the garlic finely and then sprinkle a little salt onto it.  Using the flat part of a chef's knife, mash the garlic and salt into your cutting board by dragging your knife back and forth across your board. 

2.  Mix up your tahini in its jar, then scoop out half a cup.  Pour it into a bowl, add the garlic, the juice of two lemons, and salt.  Beat this vigorously with a spoon or a whisk until it becomes creamy. 

3.  Gradually add cold water, one tablespoon at a time, until sauce thins out to desired consistency.  Taste and add more lemon juice or salt until the flavor is fairly tart.

4.  Stir in parsley.

Before:  garlic sprinkled with salt

After:  pasted garlic

And here is one easy way to use it, perfect for a weeknight dinner:  



Tahini-Lemon Sauced Fish

Lemon and fish are a classic combination - but I also love the tahini here. 

Prepare your favorite white, flaky fish any way you prefer - broil, fry, steam - and simply spoon this sauce over when serving, or serve on the side for dipping.  I breaded my tilapia with masa, added a seasoning blend for fish (sorry, my mother brings this for me in little baggies from a shop in the Old City, so I'm not sure what is in this!), a little garlic and salt and pepper, and pan-fried it in olive oil.  But you can prepare your fish any way that you enjoy. 

More recipes using tahini-lemon sauce to come . . .


  1. This looks awesome! I have a jar of tahini on hand for making hummus- but I never use it for anything else. Will be trying this next week.

  2. I think a lot of people are in your situation. I am glad to help! I have a several more recipes coming that use this sauce, so check back, if you can. I have a recipe for a simple salad and a cauliflower bake.

  3. I love tahini & will definitely be giving this sauce a go!

  4. We made this tonight and LOVED it! We had it over Ahi Tuna for our Good Friday meal and it was excellent.

    I have to admit, however, that my whisking skills need help so I eventually surrendered and had the food processor do the work for me. =)

    Thanks so much!

  5. I am so glad that you liked it! Yum- Ahi Tuna would be delicious with this. I thought it might be nice for a Good Friday meal.

    How did it work out in a food processor? I love mine and I think this sauce might work well in there.

  6. How long does it keep in the fridge? My kids love tahini and sauce in general... So it would be good to have some on hand from when they grow tired of my food!

    1. If you don't add the parsley or the garlic, you can keep this on hand in the fridge for two weeks or maybe even longer.

  7. Great article. I read this article properly. This is one of the best posts. Thanks sharing this article
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  8. This looks really yummy, thank you so for sharing such a nice post and i really like anything made of fish and the most favorite recipe of mine is fish fry recipe and other recipe is chicken chargha recipe. Does your blogger offer Pakistani recipes? they are fairly mouthwatering too just like the Palestine's.


Trying this recipe? A question or a comment? I'd love to hear from you!