This is an all-purpose Middle Eastern sauce for fish, salads, cooked vegetables, and pita bread. The Turks prefer to use walnuts and hazelnuts. The Syrians and Lebanese use pine nuts and occasionally almonds. I like it with walnuts (even though it turns a funny shade of purple), hazelnuts, pine nuts, and the less conventional pistachios. The latter is especially good with the fritto misto of shellfish, especially deep-fried mussels.
Tarator can be spread on fish before baking; the tahini keeps the fish very moist. One of the biggest surprises I had when travelling in the Yucatan was to find samak tarator on a menu in Merida. It was baked snapper with a pine nut version of this sauce. I later learned there was a large Lebanese population in Merida that had intermarried with the local Indians. This ethnic mix certainly produced some interesting cuisine.
Place the nuts and garlic in a food processor and pulse until combined. Add the tahini and
© 1998 Joyce Goldstein. All rights reserved.