Bon Appetit’s Harissa Salmon is the Perfect Dinner Party Main

Posted April 28, 2018 by Mike
harissa salmon | www.iamafoodblog.com

We recently had a Moroccan themed dinner party and Steph and I were chatting about the main dish. The friends of ours who were coming weren’t big on Asian food, and it was too cold to grill – our usual go-tos for dinner parties. Suddenly Steph had a moment of genius: “What about oven roasted salmon? I saw this one on BA the other day and it looked great!” she said. I wasn’t convinced at first. Fish can be polarizing for people. But when we got home that night, I looked up her salmon and she was right as usual, the salmon looked fantastic and perfect for a dinner party.

Slow-Roasted Harissa Salmon Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Slow-Roasted Harissa Salmon Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Slow-Roasted Harissa Salmon Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

What really appealed to me in this dish is that it only has 5 ingredients, plus seasoning and garnish, and that it scales well. So, following my cardinal rule for dinner parties (never try anything for the first time at a dinner party that you are cooking), out we went to buy a tiny salmon fillet.

Slow-Roasted Harissa Salmon Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Here’s what I discovered:

1. The recipe suggests you use skinless fillets, and I agree – it’s worth it to take the skin off in this case, though I usually love salmon skin.
2. It’s definitely worth it to buy a pair of fish tweezers (if you have strong hands you can use your fingers too) and remove the pin bones.
3. The brand of harissa and olive oil you use are super important, being that they are the two main flavor components, I’ve tried this again recently (4th time) with an off brand oil/harissa and it didn’t come close to what it tasted like the first three times.
4. The recipe suggests basting, I don’t think you need to though – our sauce never moved off the top of the salmon.


Slow-Roasted Harissa Salmon Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

It came out perfectly each time (except #4). The salmon was perfectly cooked, the presentation – flaking the salmon into large chunks with a spoon before serving – was a hit, and most importantly, it tasted incredible: spicy, sweet, savory, sour, this dish had it all. This is definitely a dish I’m coming back to again and again, both for dinner parties and weeknight lazy-fests.

Slow-Roasted Harissa Salmon Recipe | www.iamafoodblog.com

Slow-Roasted Harissa Salmon Recipe
Serves 4

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (recommended: lemon-infused olive oil)
  • 1/4 cup harissa paste
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1.5lb skinless wild salmon fillet
  • salt
  • dill

Preheat your oven to 275ºF

Whisk together your olive oil, harissa, and crushed garlic until it becomes a paste. Spread half the paste in your roasting pan.

Season your salmon generously with salt on both sides, then place in the roasting pan. Spread the remaining paste on top. Arrange lemons over top and place in the center of your oven. At the 30 minute mark, try to flake the salmon with a spoon, if you can’t easily do so, leave it in for another 5 minutes, otherwise, remove.

Flake the salmon into 2″ chunks with a spoon, then transfer to your serving plate and pour any remaining sauce over top. Sprinkle the dill on top and serve immediately.

adapted from Bon Appetit


  1. Erika says:

    Will you share what brand of Harissa was a success?

    1. Flannery says:

      Yes, I’d love to know too!

      1. Mike says:

        The successful Harissa was the du cap bon brand – photo up above and Amazon link here

  2. Jennifer says:

    How spicy was it…medium or hotter

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi jennifer, it was medium, but it depends on your harissa :)

  3. Andrea says:

    What sides did you serve alongside the salmon?

    1. Stephanie says:

      we had 2 types of salad and batbout bread!

    2. Deanna says:

      I made this and served it with a pea/asparagus/pea shoot salad with preserved lemon vinaigrette. I was using a food52 recipe for merguez sausage with aforementioned salad as inspiration. Roasted potatoes would have been at home with it as well.

  4. Sorry to BA, Steph; but your photos look better than their page 83. =P

  5. halley chambers says:

    Hi! Making this for a dinner party tonight. I’m wondering if it works equally well to serve it at room temperature, or whether it really needs to be hot? Thank you!!

    1. Mike says:

      It’s better hot but room temp salmon is still delicious

  6. Gorgeous Photos! Plus the salmon looks and sounds delicious, I need this in my belly!

  7. Robb Belcher says:

    This has become a regular go to dish in our house. Simple, the oven does all the work while you talk with your guest. After years of recycling the same old salmon recipes this was such an exciting, flavorful treat. I use Mina brand Harissa which is pretty mild but very flavorful.

  8. katarina says:

    Sounds really good. I´m just genuinly curious what the purpouse of the sliced lemon is. di you eat it or is it decoration<+

    1. Stephanie says:

      both! if you’ve ever had charred lemons, they taste delicious, but only when they’re sliced quite thin so you don’t get too much bitterness from the pith :)

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