This fish gets its Middle Eastern tang from zaatar, a spice blend that's having a big moment, and its sesame-rich sauce. A fine side dish: oven-roasted diced potatoes (start them before the fish) tossed with parsley and olive oil. Couscous would be good too.
2 teaspoons zaatar*
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon red chile flakes
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 (1 in. thick) halibut fillets (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
1/4 cup tahini (sesame-seed paste)
1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
How to Make It
Set rack in top third of oven and preheat to 450°. Zest half of 1 lemon into a small bowl. Add zaatar, cumin, chile flakes, 1 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper, and the oil; mix. Coat one side of fillets with paste.
Arrange halibut, paste side up, on a baking sheet and set on upper rack. Roast until fish is just cooked through, 6 to 10 minutes.
Put tahini, garlic, 2 tbsp. water, juice of 1/2 lemon, and remaining 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a blender and whirl until smooth and pourable. Add more lemon juice to taste, and more water if you'd prefer a thinner sauce. Cut remaining lemon into wedges.
Serve fish with tahini sauce and lemon wedges.
*Find zaatar, a Middle Eastern spice blend of sesame seeds, sumac, thyme, and oregano, in your grocery store's spice aisle.
Wine pairing: A silky red like Crossbarn by Paul Hobbs 2012 Pinot Noir (Anderson Valley; $35); aromatic spices echo zaatar. --Sara Schneider