This is a real show stopper that has maximum impact when it hits the table. I love it because it’s easy to put together. You buy the salmon boned so there’s no filleting and you don’t need to pan-fry it. So all the worries about cooking fish where people say, “Oh, I don’t want to cook fish, it’s a bit too hard,” is alleviated. It’s in the oven, then 20 minutes later it’s out and it’s done.

It’s a glamorous-looking dish once the tahini and pomegranate and everything else is on it, too. I also like that it’s easy to serve and eat. It’s not like a chicken or a roast, where you have to carve it after it comes out of the oven.

Tarator is a tahini sauce, usually made with water and an acid, such as lemon or orange juice, and occasionally nuts. It’s a big part of this dish, so make sure you put a lot on.

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Chef Shane Delia is the host of SBS shows Spice Journey and A Middle East Feast, and owns Melbourne restaurants Maha, Maha East and Maha Bar.

Baked salmon with tarator, burnt butter and pomegranate tabouli, by Shane Delia
Serves 8
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

Salmon
8 cloves garlic
2 whole preserved lemons, skin only, chopped
1 tsp fennel seeds toasted
10g ginger, peeled and finely grated
2½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Salt flakes (I use Murray River salt flakes)
1.2–1.3kg side of salmon pin-boned, skinned and trimmed

Tarator
150g tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
3 cloves garlic, crushed

Burnt butter
75g good-quality salted butter
50g pine nuts
50g chopped walnuts
1 tsp freshly ground coffee
1 clove garlic, smashed using the side of a knife
Juice of 1 lemon

Pomegranate tabouli
100g coarse unbleached burghul
½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
½ bunch mint, leaves picked
½ bunch coriander, leaves picked
½ bunch chives, finely chopped
2 golden shallots, finely diced
140g pomegranate arils from 1 pomegranate Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

Note: To remove pomegranate arils, cut the pomegranate in half, put one half at a time in a zip-lock bag, then tap the back with a spoon until the arils all fall out. That way the red juice doesn’t go everywhere.

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Place the garlic, preserved lemon, fennel seeds and ginger in a mortar or food processor and pound or process, gently adding the olive oil, until you have a smooth paste. Taste and season with salt, then rub the mixture on both sides of the salmon.

Place the salmon on a large sheet of baking paper that will easily enclose the fish. Drizzle a little oil over the salmon and season with salt. Enclose the salmon in the baking paper, crumpling the edges to ensure no air can get out. Wrap in foil, then transfer to the oven and bake for 20–25 minutes (depending on the size of the fish), until just cooked through.

To make the tabouli, tip the burghul into a heatproof bowl and pour enough boiling water over the top to cover. Leave to soak for 20 minutes, then drain and refresh under cold running water until cold. Drain and set aside in a salad bowl.

Layer the parsley, mint and coriander leaves on a chopping board, then use a sharp knife to finely slice the herbs – this prevents the herbs from bruising, leaving you with a much better flavour and aroma. Add the sliced herbs, chives, shallot and pomegranate arils to the burghul and gently stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the tarator, place the tahini in a large bowl. Slowly start adding the lemon juice, orange juice and then 50ml of water in a steady stream while whisking the tahini. The tahini will initially be firm and stiff, but will loosen as you add the liquid. You should end up with a pouring consistency, so add a little more water if it’s still thick. Stir through the garlic, then taste and season with salt.

Pour the tarator sauce into a large shallow serving dish. Remove the fish from the oven and carefully open the foil and paper, allowing the steam to release.

Gently place the fish on the tarator and cover with the tabouli.

To make the burnt butter, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the nuts and cook, occasionally swirling the pan, for 2–3 minutes to slowly brown the butter. Add the coffee and garlic and continue to cook for another 1–2 minutes, until the butter is a rich nut brown and toasted. (Adding freshly ground coffee to burnt butter adds depth of flavour and results in a beautiful finish.) Add the lemon juice, then taste and season with salt. Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the garlic.

Generously spoon the burnt butter over the fish and enjoy with friends.

This is an extract from the Broadsheet cookbook Home Made, which features 80 diverse recipes for home cooking, sourced from Melbourne's best cooks, chefs and restaurants. Published by Plum, the book is available for $49.95 at shop.broadsheet.com.au