Middle Eastern Salmon with Tahini Sauce and Walnut Relish – Dani Valent

Fancy enough for a dinner party, easy and quick enough for a weeknight

You will not believe how great this dish is! It’s quick, easy, impressive and feeds the whole gang. It’s fast enough for a weeknight and impressive enough for the fanciest dinner party. Salmon steamed in the Varoma has a sublime texture: moist, fall-apart and with all the flavour locked in. We augment the beautiful fish with layered flavours and textures, building up excitement and a sense of occasion.

There are a few ingredients here but this dish is surprisingly easy and quick – don’t take my word for it, watch the video! Even better, you can break every single element of this dish out and use it in other ways. See the Tips below for some ideas.

I start this video by making preserved lemons, which are easy to prepare but need to mature for at least a month. If you can’t wait a month (!) purchase preserved lemons in Middle Eastern grocers or fine food delis, or just replace with lemon zest.

Serves: 8
Time: 45 minutes, plus 1 hour quinoa soaking


Preserved Lemons

  • 4 lemons
  • salt


  • 25 grams (2 heaped tablespoons) sumac
  • 10 grams (1 tablespoon) dried thyme
  • 30 grams (1 oz) sesame seeds
  • 10 grams (1 tablespoon) dried oregano
  • 1 tsp flaked salt

Tahini Sauce

  • 300 grams (10.6 oz) Greek yoghurt
  • 80 grams (3 oz) tahini (hulled)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp flaked salt
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 30 grams (1 oz) olive oil
  • 2 tsp zaatar

Walnut Relish

  • 100 grams (3.5 oz) walnuts
  • big handful fresh mint
  • 1 green chilli, halved, seeds removed if desired
  • 1 piece preserved lemon, or 3 peeled strips lemon zest
  • pinch salt

Salmon and quinoa

  • 900 grams (31.7 oz) piece fresh salmon, skin on
  • 1 tablespoon zaatar
  • 1 litre (34 oz) water
  • 200 grams (7 oz) multi-coloured quinoa, soaked for an hour or overnight, drained
  • 30 grams (1 oz) olive oil
  • 20 grams (2 tablespoons) currants
  • lemon zest, finely grated
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Preserved Lemons

1. Cut lemons into quarters and pack into a jar, pressing down to extract juice, and layering with salt as you go.

2. Top up with extra lemon juice, if necessary, to ensure lemons are submerged.

3. Seal jar and place in a cool, dark place for at least four weeks. When using preserved lemons, discard flesh and pips and use the skin.


4. Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and toast 5 min/Varoma/speed 1. Allow to cool for 1 minute with lid removed. Turbo 1 sec/Turbo, then set aside. Do not wash the mixing bowl.

Tahini Sauce

5. Place yoghurt, tahini, lemon and garlic in mixing bowl and mix 15 sec/speed 6. Check sauce consistency: you want it to be thick, but pourable. Add 50 grams water, if necessary, along with the olive oil and salt. Mix 5 sec/speed 6, then scrape down and mix 10 sec/speed 5, or until consistency is smooth.

6. Scrape out bowl well and reserve sauce. There’s no need to wash mixing bowl.

Walnut Relish

7. Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and chop 1 sec/Turbo. Set aside. There’s no need to wash mixing bowl.

Salmon and Quinoa

8. Place water in mixing bowl, quinoa in steamer basket and set basket in place.

9. Place salmon skin-side down on Varoma tray and season with zaatar. Steam 20 min/Varoma/speed 2.

10. When salmon and quinoa are cooked, set salmon aside and turn quinoa into a large bowl. Toss with olive oil, currants and lemon zest, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve salmon, skin-side down on a platter. Smother with Tahini Sauce and scatter with Walnut Relish. Serve with extra sauce, topping and quinoa.



  • Use individual portions of salmon, if desired.
  • Add chopped smoked almonds to quinoa, if desired.
  • This salmon is also amazing served with Cauliflower Rice and the Tahini Sauce is beautiful on the Cauli Rice even without the salmon!

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