Dinner Tonight: Salmon Charmoula

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

Parsley, cilantro, cumin, paprika, garlic—these are the basics of what might be my new favorite sauce. Charmoula is a difficult thing to pin down, as different countries, from Tunisia to Morocco, claim their own versions, but I think of it as a simple variation on pesto or salsa verde with the earthy undertones of North African spices. This particular recipe comes a cookbook called Yolele! Recipes from the Heart of Senegal.

Painted on a roasted piece of salmon with the addition of chopped green olives, it's dramatically flavored and incredibly delicious. The salmon is roasted over high for a few minutes in a pouch of aluminum foil—this seems to steam the flavors into the fish—then unfolded to let the moisture evaporate and concentrate the juices. The cumin and paprika added a deep, aromatic flavor that makes it special.

Dinner Tonight: Salmon Charmoula

About This Recipe

Yield:serves 4
Active time:20
Total time:50


  • 1/4 cup coarsley chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup coarsley chopped parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • Ground cayenne pepper to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 salmon steaks or fillets
  • 1 lemon, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  • 1/2 cup green olives, pitted and roughly chopped


  1. 1

    In a small food processor combine cilantro, parsley, garlic, and lemon juice. Process to thoroughly mince garlic and herbs. Add spices and olive oil and process until thoroughly combined into a paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  2. 2

    Season salmon with salt and pepper, and spread half of the charmoula paste onto the fish. Allow to marinate for 20 minutes. In the meantime, preheat oven to 400°F.

  3. 3

    On a baking sheet, lay salmon on aluminum foil and lay lemon slices on top of the fish. Cover with remaining charmoula and add a small amount of water before folding fish up into a pouch. Roast in the oven for 8 minutes, then uncover and continue roasting until fish is cooked through, another 8-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. Serve immediately.


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