Za’atar Crusted Salmon

Feast Local
by Feast Local
4 servings
28 min

This super easy, flavor packed za’atar crusted salmon recipe is the cure to your weeknight dinner rut! The whole dish comes together in under 25 minutes and is sure to satisfy!

What is Za’atar?

Za’atar is a middle eastern spice blend that I use on repeat in my house. Everyone’s Za’atar blend is a little bit different, but the key ingredients remain the same, these are dried oregano, dried thyme, cumin, coriander, tons of sesame seeds, and sumac. If this recipe sounds good to you, be sure to check out this 30 Minute Za’atar Pan Roasted Chicken, which also spotlights this delicious spice blend.

Don’t forget the tahini sauce!

This super easy sauce, made with just 5 ingredients, compliments any dish. And is especially great with my Za’atar Crusted Salmon. To make it easier, I like to make this sauce in a food processor. However, you can easily save your self from doing an extra dish, and stir this by hand!

Key Ingredients

Za’atar – This spice blend proves the main flavor of the dish. I like to be generous with it, using 2 whole table spoons, and pressing it on the the fish, so it sticks as we pan fry it. Turning it into a beautiful, restaurant-worthy crust.

Olive Oil – This is what will help us achieve that beautiful crust. I typically do not like to use olive oil liberally, to save on calories and fat. But I make an exception for this dish, and you will want to as well. Without the piping hot olive oil, You won’t be able to get the deep golden crust that makes this dish such a winner. Depending on how big your skillet is, use 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Making sure the whole bottom is covered.

Tahini – This will make up the base of the sauce, so don’t skip it!

Lemon – This will help flavor the sauce, and also help thin it out so you can spoon it over the salmon.

Salmon – You can’t have a salmon recipe without salmon! To keep things easy, you can buy cut salmon filets from your grocery store’s fish monger, to make sure they are all the same size. And therefore, will cook uniformly. Alternatively, you can take a big salmon filet, and cut it into roughly 6 oz pieces. There are a lot of ways you can prepare your salmon, but I would not recommend keeping the big filet whole. This is because it would not fit on a cast iron skillet. Instead you would have to roast it on a baking tray in the oven, and you would never be able to achieve the same restaurant-worthy crust that way.

How to serve this dish

This dish would pair excellently with a short cut pasta such as orzo or couscous. If you want to add more protein, you can even serve it with quinoa. It would also be delish served over salad which is how I enjoyed mine.

Za’atar Crusted Salmon
Recipe details
  • 4  servings
  • Prep time: 20 Minutes Cook time: 8 Minutes Total time: 28 min
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Za’atar Crusted Salmon
  • 4 “6 oz” Salmon Filets
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Tbs Za’atar
  • 2-3 Tbs Olive Oil
Lemon Tahini Sauce
  • Lemon Tahini Sauce
  • 3 Tbs Tahini
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • ½ Lemon, Juiced
  • ¼ Tsp Ground Cumin
  • ½ Tsp Sumac
  • 4-6 Tbs of Water to thin 
  • Salt to Taste

Start by making the lemon tahini sauce. In a food processor, blend the tahini, lemon juice, minced garlic, cumin, and sumac until well combined. Then, slowly stream in the water until your desired consistency is reached. I was happy with adding 4 tablespoons, however if you have a thicker tahini paste, you may want to add the full 6 tablespoons. Add salt to taste, then set aside.
Pat filets dry and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Then season one side with za’atar. Be generous with the za’atar and try to pat it in to help it stick to the salmon.
Heat 2-3 tbs of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, pan fry the salmon, starting with the za’atar coated side first. Pan fry until the salmon is crisp, roughly 3 minutes, then flip. To ensure a golden crust, do not touch the salmon for those first 3 minutes!
Flip the filets and cook for 2 more minutes on medium high, then reduce the temperature to low for the remainder of the time. Roughly 3-4 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 140 degrees Fahrenheit on a thermometer.
To serve, place the salmon filet on a salad or with a carb such as orzo. Spoon the lemon tahini sauce over and garnish with crushed pistachios and any fresh herbs such as mint. Enjoy!
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