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Lior Lev Sercarz, from "Mastering Spice" by Lior Lev Sercarz
Finely grind the sumac, za’atar, and peppercorns together and immediately mix with the whole sesame seeds.
2 whole white fish (1 pound each), such as branzino, sea bass, dorade, or orata, gutted and scaled
2 large shallots, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
Lemon wedges, for serving
1 cup black kalamata olives, pitted and halved
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Using a sharp knife, cut four or five 2-inch-long, 1⁄2-inch-deep slits on both sides of each fish. Drizzle and rub oil all over the fish to coat both sides. Sprinkle the spice blend all over the fish and inside their cavities.
Stuff some of the shallot, olive, and preserved lemons inside the fish cavities. Put remaining shallot, olives, and lemons in a small roasting pan, half sheet pan, or shallow baking dish. Generously drizzle with oil, season with salt, toss to coat, and spread in an even layer. Season the fish evenly with salt and place on top of the vegetables.
Roast until the flesh is opaque (you can tell if the flesh is opaque by peeking into the slits) and the blade of a paring knife inserted into the thickest part and removed feels warm when you touch it to your lips, about 25 minutes. Let the fish rest for a few minutes, then serve with the vegetables and lemon wedges for squeezing over the fish.
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