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Sesame Crusted Salmon with Charmoula

This recipe and photography was provided courtesy of local cookbook author and chef, Carla Snyder. Learn more about Carla and discover her recipes at or in her cookbook, One Pan Whole Family. 

Have you ever heard of Charmoula? It’s not your typical fish sauce, but boy oh boy is it worth cooking with. A zesty, thick and spicy pesto-like sauce, Charmoula is a delicious addition to salmon because lemon and lime are seafood’s best friends. The acidic citrus flavors combined with a hearty filet of salmon are undeniably extraordinary.

Tips on Cooking Fish

Before you heat up the pan or oven, make sure to follow these tips:

  1. Begin cooking fish skin side down. This allows for the flavors of the skin to meld with the fish and it makes for a nicer presentation.
  2. Cook on high heat. Restaurants cook seafood fast at high temperatures, so always make sure to cook your seafood in a hot pan.
  3. Pat fish dry. Moisture on the top of fish prevents it from browning.
  4. Be aware. Most fish will continue to cook for a few minutes after being removed from the heat. Keep this in mind to prevent fish from becoming overdone when cooking.

Cooking with seafood isn’t so scary when you have delicious recipes and tips to guide you. Now let’s have some fun with fish!

Sesame Crusted Salmon with Charmoula
Sesame Crusted Salmon with Charmoula



  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon, paprika, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested and squeezed
  • Four 6-oz salmon fillets, skin on
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup black sesame seeds


  1. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the shallot and red pepper. Sauté for about 3 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, paprika, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and pepper flake. Sauté for 1 minute or until the garlic is fragrant. Transfer the contents of the pan to a medium bowl.
  2. Add the parsley, cilantro, lemon juice and zest to the vegetables and stir to mix until blended. Taste for seasoning and add more sea salt, lemon juice or pepper flakes if it needs it.
  3. Arrange the salmon fillets skin side down on a cutting board. Pat them dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. drizzle them with a little of the oil (about 1 tsp) and rub it around with your fingers. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and press lightly to make them stick.
  4. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan. When the oil is hot, add the salmon sesame side down. Turn the salmon after 3 minutes. The sesame seeds should be crispy. Cook the second side for another 3 minutes or until cooked through.
  5. Transfer the fillets to warmed plates and serve with a dollop of charmoula. Add pinches of paprika around the edge of the plate as garnish if desired.

Note: For added enjoyment, pair this dish with Souvenir Pinot Noir from our Wine Department

Carla Snyder in her kitchen
By Carla Snyder
Carla has spent the past 30 years in the food world as a caterer, artisan baker, cooking school teacher, food writer and author of 6 cook books including the James Beard nominated Big Book of Appetizers. Her passion is sharing fresh, cooked-from-scratch weeknight meals that cut prep time and practically eliminate that nightly sink full of dishes.

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