Mahi — Sea Bass with Cilantro and Walnut Relish

A celebratory dish that looks superb yet is so easy to prepare.

A celebratory dish that looks superb yet is so easy to prepare

(Photography by Betty Binon)

Fish is enjoyed on Nowruz as it represents life and fertility, and it’s traditionally paired with herb-scented rice, sabzi polow. In this recipe, we use a Mediterranean sea bass but if you cannot find sea bass, you could substitute trout. Drizzle your serving of fish with lots of the tangy, garlicky walnut relish. This recipe is part of a full Nowruz feast — find the complete menu here.


  • 2 whole Mediterranean seabass (branzino)* 1½ lb, (weight after being scaled, gutted and cleaned)
  • 3 tbsp grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil with a high smoke point)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • ½ lemon, sliced into a half-moon shape, seeds removed

Cilantro and Walnut Relish:

  • 1 cup (packed) fresh coriander, both leaves and stalks, washed and thoroughly dried
  • ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp pul biber (Aleppo pepper) or hot smoked paprika


Preheat oven to 425F degrees. 

Place the fish on a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Pat the fish dry, then rub the skin and the cavity  with the oil, and season with the salt. Stuff the cavity with the lemon slices. Roast on the lowest rack of the oven for 15 minutes, rotating tray halfway through, front to back, until the fish skin appears slightly crisped up. 

Meanwhile, make the cilantro and walnut relish. Roughly chop the cilantro and place in a small mixing bowl. Add the walnuts, garlic,vinegar, salt and olive oil to the bowl, and mix to combine. Transfer into a small serving bowl and sprinkle with pul biber or paprika. 

Serve the fish, adding dollops of the relish.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Shayma Owaise Saadat is a food writer and chef. She lives in Toronto with her husband and son. You can follow her culinary journey at or on Instagram at @SpiceSpoon.

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