Recipe: Ottolenghi’s chilli fish with tahini

Chef, restaurateur and best-selling cookbook author Yotam Ottolenghi shares his recipe for Chilli fish with tahini from his Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook.

Ottolenghi writes “There are very few things, in my book, which aren’t improved by a drizzle of creamy tahini sauce. Here it makes perfect sense, balancing out the chilli and bringing a welcome creaminess.

I tend to make double the tomato sauce and keep the excess in the fridge for a week, or the freezer for a month, so you can either make this dish twice or spoon it alongside some grilled chicken or veg. The tahini sauce can be made 3 days ahead and kept in the fridge.

Recipe: Chilli fish with tahini from Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook

Serves 4


  • 800g halibut (or other firm white fish), either 4 steaks, on the bone, or 4 fillets, skinless and boneless
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 1–2 red chillies, chopped widthways into 2cm long chunks, most of the seeds removed
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds, plus ¼ tsp to serve
  • 1 dried ancho chilli, trimmed, seeds discarded, torn into 5cm pieces (or 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika)
  • 1kg plum tomatoes, chopped into 1cm dice
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ tsp caster sugar
  • 5g coriander leaves, roughly chopped, to serve
  • salt

Tahini Sauce

  • 50g tahini
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


  1. Lightly season the fish with just 1∕3 teaspoon of salt. Set aside.
  2. Put the oil into a large sauté pan, for which you have a lid, and place on a medium high heat. Once hot, add the fresh chillies and fry for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, caraway seeds and ancho chilli and continue to fry for 1 minute, until the garlic is starting to turn golden-brown. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and ½ teaspoon of salt, then, once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the sauce is thick. Add the fish, cover the pan and continue to cook for 10 minutes.
  3. To make the tahini sauce, mix the tahini and lemon juice with 60ml of water and 1∕8 teaspoon of salt.
  4. When ready to serve, gently lift the fish out of the pan and set aside somewhere warm. If the fish has released a lot of liquid during the cooking and the sauce is runny, increase the heat and let it bubble away quickly until thick. Taste and add salt if needed.
  5. Transfer the fish to a serving dish. Spoon over the sauce, sprinkle over the coriander and serve.

Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook, RRP $55.00

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