Slow-Roasted Salmon with Cucumber Yogurt and Quick-Preserved Lemons

It’s one thing to ask a friend for a recipe, it’s another thing to pilfer their signature dish. For the past few years, my friend Diana has dazzled dinner guests with her take on Suzanne Goin’s Slow-Roasted Salmon with Cucumber Yogurt; a recipe that you won’t find in any of Goin’s cookbooks but, rather weirdly, on the Hollywood Bowl website. It’s such a winning dinner party dish because you get to serve fish to any number of people without having to stress; the slow-cooking in the oven guarantees a moist interior and also ensures that all of the fillets will be done at the same time. Top it with a yogurt sauce amped up with toasted cumin seeds and preserved lemons (more on those in a moment) and you’ve got a dish so good, it’s worth stealing from a friend (sorry Diana).

So about those preserved lemons. Some people are resourceful enough to preserve lots of them ahead so they’re ready to go when you need them. I’m not one of those people. That’s why Mark Bittman’s recipe for Quick Preserved Lemons is so handy; you just cut up a bunch of lemons into a relatively even dice, put them in a jar with some salt and sugar, shake it up, and a few hours later you’ve got what you need. Here’s photographic evidence:





It’s really that simple; and the longer the lemons sit, the funkier they taste–funkier in a good way. Make a lot and you’ll have them for the whole week (throw into a tagine or a couscous or whatever).

As for the rest of the dish, you won’t believe how simple it is: slice up some Persian cucumbers and mix them with whole milk yogurt, toasted cumin seeds, shallots, garlic, the preserved lemons, preserved lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and mint. There’s your yogurt sauce.


Now for the salmon; watch how simple. Preheat your oven to 250. Make an herb paste by combining lemon zest, shallots, tarragon, dill, and parsley with some olive oil (note: the full recipe is here). Put your salmon filets on a rack on a foil lined sheet, salt and pepper them, and then smear with the herb mixture.


Roast for 30 minutes until it starts to flake apart (cut into one fillet to make sure it’s no longer translucent in the middle; that’s your piece). Here’s the finished salmon:


To plate, spoon some cooked rice on to a plate (I used my rice cooker), top with some arugula or watercress (I used arugula), then the salmon, then lots of the yogurt sauce.

Seriously, it’s a dish worth memorizing because you’ll want to make it again and again. It’s actually my signature dish, I’ve been making it for years. Diana who?

10 thoughts on “Slow-Roasted Salmon with Cucumber Yogurt and Quick-Preserved Lemons”

  1. wow – not only does this look fantastic, I think I can actually make this! I think I’ll be planning to have some friends over soon. Thanks for “stealing” and thanks for sharing. ~Lisa

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  2. I have always wanted to make preserved lemons, since I love them but it is not a Lebanese tradition. I just did not want to wait 3 weeks before using them . Thanks for the great tip and the recipes!

  3. I would like to chime in and say that I too have been a lucky guest at Diana’s dinner table when this meal was served and since then it is all I’ve ever wanted to cook for guests. I’ve done a poor job trying to cobble together all of the elements. Three cheers for plagiarism, Adam. Anyone who has ever eaten it was thinking of stealing it. But only you had the guts to go and do it. For that,I am grateful.

  4. Gosh, every time I think I’ve found a recipe online it’s actually borrowed from a different website where the actual ingredients list is but first I’ve been forced to look at 37 pictures on a copycat website so I can click on their advertisements.

  5. I love the look of this dish and the flavors sound really wonderful to compliment the salmon. I also loved your recommended Quick Preserved Lemons! I’m definitely doing that this week! Great post — I’m jumping on your “steal it” wagon!

  6. Hi Adam, it’s not like you to go such a long time in between posts. Everything OK? I hope you’re just busy with a new project.

Let's dish!

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