FISH TAGINE WITH CHERMOULA (for four)
4 or 5 thick halibut steaks, or 1 striped bass, 2 red snappers or any large, firm white fish (4-1/2 to 5 pounds), head and tail removed, scaled and cleaned
lemon juice (optional)
chermoula (recipe follows)
3 large potatoes
3 red, ripe tomatoes
3 sweet green peppers
1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled
1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
carrot and celery sticks to form a base for the fish
1. Wash the fish early in the day. If it smells “fishy”, rub it with lemon juice and rinse. Rub it with salt and let it stand 10 minutes. Rinse it again and drain, pat dry with paper towels.
2. If you are using whole fish, slice the fish crosswise into 5 or 6 large pieces. Rub some of the chermoula into the steaks or sliced fish and let it stand at least 30 minutes (the longer the better) so that the spices can penetrate the fish.
3. One and a half hours before serving, peel the potatoes and slice thinly (Take this seriously. If the slices aren’t very thin, the potatoes won’t cook fully and will still be crunchy when the tagine is finished). Slice the tomatoes crosswise. Halve the green peppers and remove seeds.
4. Preheat the oven to 400*.
5. Make a lattice pattern on the bottom of the tagine by crisscrossing the celery and carrot sticks (you can achieve the same result using 6 bamboo chopsticks). Arrange the fish steaks or slices over the lattice. Dip the sliced potatoes in chermoula and spread them over the fish. Repeat with tomatoes and green peppers. Chop the garlic and sprinkle it over the vegetables.
6. Mix the remaining chermoula with the tomato paste, lemon juice, oil and ½ cup water. Pour this sauce over the fish. Cover the tagine and bake 35 minutes. Remove cover. Raise the oven heat to the highest setting and move the tagine to the uppermost shelf of the oven. Bake 20 minutes, or until the fish is cooked and a nice crust has formed on the vegetables. Serve warm, not hot.
½ cup green coriander leaves, coarsely chopped
½ cup parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons vinegar, preferably mild
1/3 cup lemon juice
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 heaping teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cumin
cayenne to taste (optional)
1. Blend the herbs with the garlic and vinegar until pasty. Dump into a mixing bowl. Stir in the lemon juice, salt and spices.
from Paula Wolfert, Couscous and Other Good Things from Morocco