Roasted Cod with a Cilantro Crust

By / Food / November 7th, 2023 / 1

Samak mashew bil cozbara w al limon

Reprinted with permission from Falastin: A Cookbook by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley, copyright © 2020. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Photography credit: Jenny Zarins © 2020

Serves 4

The combination of fish and tahini is one we find hard to resist, but this works just as well without the tahini sauce if you’re looking for a shortcut or want to keep the focus on the lemon. Either way, this is as close to fast food as you can get. It’s a 15-minute meal to make, beginning to end. Possibly even less time to eat.

If you are using the tahini sauce, make the whole quantity of the master recipe. It keeps in the fridge for about four days and is lovely to have around to drizzle over all sorts of roasted vegetables, meat, fish, and salads.

Playing around: Any other meaty white fish works just as well here; sea bass or halibut, for example. Salmon also works well.


  • 4 tbsp/60ml olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2½ cups/50g cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2½ tsp Fish Spice Mix (recipe below)
  • ½ tsp chile flakes
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 4 large cod fillets (or another sustainably sourced white fish), skin on (about 1½ lb/700g)
  • 4 large fresh bay leaves (optional)
  • 2 lemons: 1 cut into 8 very thin slices, 1 quartered lengthwise into wedges
  • About ¼ cup/65g tahini sauce (see separate recipe; optional)


Preheat the oven to 500°F. Line a roasting dish with parchment paper.

Put 2 tbsp of oil into a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 10 seconds, then add the cilantro, fish spice mix, chile flakes, ¼ tsp of salt, and a grind of black pepper. Cook for 4–5 minutes, stirring frequently, for the garlic to really soften, then remove from the heat.

Place the cod in the prepared roasting dish, skin side down, and brush with the remaining 2 tbsp of oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then spoon the cilantro mix on top of each fillet. Spread it out so that the whole top is covered, then top each one with a bay leaf (if using), along with 2 slices of lemon. Roast for 7–8 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Serve at once, with about 1 tbsp of tahini sauce drizzled over, if desired, and lemon wedges alongside.

Fish spice mix

Baharat samak

Makes 7 tsp

This mix is used throughout the chapter—in dishes such as the fish kofta, roasted cod, spiced fish, and baked mackerel—so double or triple the batch, if you like. It keeps well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month, and much longer in the freezer. It’s also great to use as a rub for all sorts of things—cubes of chicken or tofu, prawns for the barbecue, or roasted mixed vegetables.

  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp paprika

Place all the spices in a bowl and mix well to combine. If making more than you need, transfer to a sealed container.

Sami Tamimi (right) is the executive chef and partner of London’s enormously popular Ottolenghi restaurant group. Alongside Yotam Ottolenghi, Tamimi is the coauthor of two bestselling cookbooks: Ottolenghi and Jerusalem.

Tara Wigley (left) has worked as part of the Ottolenghi restuarant group, collaborating with Yotam on his columns and books, for nearly a decade. She is the co-author of Ottolenghi Simple.


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