Moroccan Fish Tagine with Tomatoes, Olives, and Preserved Lemons
This tasty Moroccan fish tagine comes from chef Paula Wolfert, author of "Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking." Photo courtesy of Ed Anderson.
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed hot red pepper
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 4 wedges Preserved Lemons, rinsed, pulp and peel separated
- 3 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound monkfish fillet or thick slabs of halibut
- 1 large carrot, very thinly sliced
- 2 ribs celery, peeled and very thinly sliced
- 1 pound red ripe tomatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 small green bell pepper, sliced into very thin rounds
- 2 dozen Moroccan red or picholine olives, rinsed and pitted
- 2 dried bay leaves, preferably Turkish
- Sprigs fresh cilantro, for garnish
Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and cook until toasted and fragrant; grind to a fine powder. Transfer cumin to a mortar or jar of a blender and add garlic, salt, paprika, parsley, cilantro, pulp of preserved lemon, and olive oil. Puree to make a charmoula, using a pestle or by blending.
Rinse fish and pat dry. If using monkfish, cut away grey membrane and divide the fish into 4 equal pieces. Rub half of the charmoula all over fish; let stand for 1 hour at room temperature or up to 24 hours, refrigerated. Add 1/2 cup water to remaining charmoula, cover, and keep refrigerated.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread 2 tablespoons reserved charmoula over the bottom of a tagine; sprinkle with carrots and celery. Add half of the tomatoes and bell peppers; top with fish and drizzle with some of the charmoula. Add remaining tomatoes and bell peppers and spread remaining charmoula over top.
Chop preserved lemon peel and sprinkle around fish along with olives and bay leaves. Cover tagine with parchment paper-lined aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour.
Remove tagine from oven and pour liquid from dish into a small nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat until thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup; pour back over fish.
Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees. Baste fish with pan juices and bake, uncovered, in top third of oven until a crust has formed over the vegetables, about 10 minutes. Transfer tagine to a wooden surface or a folded kitchen towel to prevent cracking. Garnish with cilantro sprigs; serve warm or hot.