Salmon with Chriameh Sauce


This may not be the most photogenic dish but it certainly makes up for that in taste. Salmon is one of my favorite foods but the last 20 times that I’ve made it, I’m pretty sure I made it the exact same way: topped with lemon pepper seasoning and olive oil. Don’t get me wrong, lemon-pepper is quick and easy and tastes delicious even on chicken but I was ready for a change.

I was scrolling through some food blogger posts and came across this recipe on theMDChef that seemed very different compared to previous salmon recipes that I have seen. I’ve never tried making any Libyan foods but this Libyan recipe looked too good to pass up.

Being that salmon is not simply salmon in the grocery store but rather wild caught King or farm raised Atlantic, I decided to do a little more research to make it easier for you (and me) since you don’t want to spend a lifetime navigating through the fine print telling you everything from how the salmon was caught to where it was caught. We are a society that is always looking for answers. Unfortunately, there’s an unresolved debate on whether farmed or wild salmon is better. At the end of the day, it’s salmon and you’re getting the benefits either way just by eating the fish as compared to no fish. Both will be a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice per week. If you have the time, you can check the Seafood Watch site/app and look up the salmon you wish to buy. Wild salmon is considered “healthier” than farmed salmon but it is significantly more expensive.

 Pointers when choosing salmon:

  • Pick salmon that looks moist and has no brown spots/bruised skin.
  • Avoid salmon if it has a “fishy” smell.
  • Fresh isn’t always the best. Frozen fish is put on ice right after caught to preserve freshness and can be frozen for 4 months.
  • Don’t make a choice based on words like “organic” and “fresh”. There is no FDA certification method for organic fish.
  • Two large categories of salmon based on which coast of the US they were caught in
    • Pacific: King/Chinook is the Cadillac of fish with a high oil content and lots of flavor, Sockeye comes from cold glacial waters and is known for its deep red color, Chum and Pink are usually used in canned fish, Coho is widely available and lighter in color
    • Atlantic = farmed raised


Salmon with Chriameh Sauce


  • ½ cup of olive oil (will be divided throughout the recipe)
  • 1 lb salmon fillets (or 3-4 pieces)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, freshly ground
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 lemon, cut in 4 wedges
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Optional: tablespoon chopped cilantro (garnish)
  • **Serve with rice, couscous, quinoa or other grains for a main meal or can have it as a side dish


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil over high heat in a dutch oven or a large pan with a lid
  2. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper. Sear the fish for about 2 minutes on each side until it is lightly browned and cooked halfway. The middle of the fish will still look raw at this point but it will be added to the dutch oven later where it will continue cooking.
  3. Blend the garlic, paprika, caraway seeds, cumin, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of oil together in a food processor. Add more oil if needed.
  4. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil to the dutch oven and then add the spice paste. Stir and let the spices sizzle for just about 30 seconds.
  5. Add in the water and tomato paste.
  6. Allow the sauce to simmer and add in the sugar, lemon juice, ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
  7. Place the fish in the sauce and allow to simmer while covered for about 10-11 minutes.
  8. Turn off the heat, take off the lid, and allow to cool before serving.
  9. Add a few lemon wedges and cilantro for garnish.


  • The cooking time for the fish will vary based on how thick it is.
  • If you didn’t have cilantro on hand (like me), use any other fresh greens that you have on hand. I had some fresh thyme which worked well with the dish.
  • Other than salmon, white fish like sea bass, tilapia, snapper etc also work for this recipe

What is your favorite variation of salmon?

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