Dinner Tonight: Salmon Charmoula Recipe

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Dinner Tonight: Salmon Charmoula Recipe

[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.

  • 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.