Sami Tamimi's Za’atar Sea Bass With Olive and Preserved Lemon Salsa

Palestinian celebrity chef Sami Tamimi explains how to make this delicious sea bass with za'atar, the most popular herb mixture of the Levant

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Sami Tamimi's za'atar sea bass with olive and preserved lemon salsa.
Sami Tamimi's za'atar sea bass with olive and preserved lemon salsa.Credit: Dan Peretz
Sami Tamimi

Za’atar is one of the most popular herb mixtures in the whole of the Levant. The mixture's national identity is fiercely challenged by both Palestinians and Israelis. Who knew that this wild herb could be dipped in politics, too? 


2 tbsp za’atar
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for frying
4 seabass or seabream fillets, skin on (or a different firm white fish) 
sea salt

For the salsa

20g Kalamata olives, pits removed, roughly chopped 
2 preserved lemons, roughly chopped
4-5 green pickled chilies, thinly sliced
15g golden sultanas 
25g coriander, roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper  


Season each piece of fish with salt.

Mix the za’atar with the olive oil in a small bowl to create a paste. Smear this paste over the sea bass pieces, ensuring they are well coated. Place in a non-reactive container and leave to marinade in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

For the salsa, place all the ingredients in a bowl, mix well and season to taste with salt. 

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, then drizzle in 1-2 tbsp of olive oil.

Fry the fish, skin side down first for 2-3 minutes or until golden-brown, then flip the fish pieces over and fry for 1-2 minutes more. 

Arrange the fish on a flat serving plate and spoon a generous amount of salsa over it.

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