Friday, September 7, 2012

Moroccan Fish

by Sheila Connolly

For some reason lately I've been craving something I've been calling Moroccan fish.  Why, I don't know.  I don't do a lot of Middle-Eastern cooking, although I do have the classic A Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden (1974), a gift from a friend when I was first married.  But for some reason, none of the fish recipes spoke to me this time.

What did I want?  Mostly the spices—a little earthy, a little hot.  I snooped around the Internet a bit and still didn't come up with exactly the right combination.  So once again, I merged a couple to get the results I was looking for. I can call it a mash-up, right? (Although that does sound a bit disgusting, but as in music or writing, it's combining two different sources to create something new.)

I am informed that most Moroccan fish recipes call for a marinade called charmoula.  The problem is, there is no one charmoula recipe, so I improvised.  The one I liked best is actually a combination of a dry rub and a marinade (you grind the dry ingredients together, then add moister ones)


1 tsp coriander seeds
12 black peppercorns

Hey, meet my new spice
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
Pinch of saffron
½ tsp coarse salt
1 tsp paprika

In a mortar or a grinder, finely grind the dry ingredients.

1 medium onion, chopped
1/3 cup parsley leaves, chopped
1 tsp grated lemon rind
2 Tblsp fresh lemon juice

Stir these ingredients into the dry ingredients to make a thick paste.

The fish:

This is a single hake filet, about one pound
Once again, you may use whatever sturdy white fish you can find (hake, haddock and cod work well), either a single filet or several smaller serving-size pieces.  Rinse the fish and pat it dry.  Rub the chermoula on both sides and place the fish in a shallow baking dish that has been coated lightly with olive oil.  Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours.

The veggies:

I'm still working on those lovely fresh local ones from the farmers' market, and I happened to have a lot that were roughly the same diameter—some adorable peppers, and heirloom tomatoes.

1 small onion, thinly sliced
2-3 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
2-3 small peppers, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper

Remove the marinated fish from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature.  You will find that it has probably produced some liquid, which is fine.  Scatter your vegetables around the fish (this is why the small ones fit nicely).  As the fish cooks, it will produce more liquid, which will cook the vegetables without letting them dry out.

Place the baking dish in a preheated 375 degree oven and bake until the fish flakes easily and the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.  Serve with couscous or rice. 



  1. Sheila, what a pretty dish with lots of color and flavor. What fun! I love mash up recipes, where you like this of that and that of this. Am I making myself clear? LOL. Mash ups make me feel creative. Like I'm in the chemistry lab but it's the kitchen! Fun. Have a great weekend.

    ~Daryl aka Avery

  2. So beautiful, Sheila! And I love that combination of spices. Yum!

  3. This looks heavenly, and I can almost smell it! I'm not very experienced when it comes to cooking fish so I love finding new recipes. I will definitely try this.

    On a side note, my aunt, who is French, spent her teen years in Morocco where her father ran a French textile company. My uncle was stationed there with the Air Force and they met on the beach. She didn't speak English, he didn't speak French, "it was all in the eyes" my aunt said. He sent her a plane ticket to come to the US and they've been married 55 years now.

  4. This sounds wonderful. Writing down the recipe.

  5. (Peg/Meg - that story is priceless.)

    Sheila - I can almost smell the spices, and you've reminded me of a bucket list wish of mine--to one day visit Morocco. Trouble is, Marc has zero interest in visiting North Africa. (Yes, I see a Golden Girls tour group in my future!) Your fish, however, he's looking forward to eating. Thx for sharing and have a tasty weekend.

    ~ Cleo

  6. Sheila, this is beautiful! Definitely something I'm going to try. I always end up doing the same old thing with fish. Love this! Thanks!

    ~ Krista

  7. What a pretty dish! Since we eat a lot of fish, I'm always on the lookout for new/different ways to fix it. I would love to serve this and the recipe is going into my file. Thanks!

  8. This looks awesome, yes, I'm going to make this!