Last night I was feeling in the mood for a little Moroccan food so I dug out our tagine. Private Chef Trevor Gostlin prepared an amazing dish that was absolutely delicious. It’s by far the best fish dish I’ve ever had!
Tagines are rich and aromatic casseroles that form the basis of traditional Moroccan cooking. The name “tagine” is also given to the vessel in which the food is cooked. Flavoured with fragrant spices, they are cooked and often served from an attractive lidded cooking vessel designed to lock in moisture and flavours.
The food can be served right out of the tagine once the lid is off.
It’s an easy dish to make and will impress your guests.
The fish tagines of coastal Morocco are often made with whole fish. I opted for large chunks of ling cod.
First I marinated the cod in a chermoula-style flavouring. Chermoula is a distinctive Moroccan marinate, often found in fish dishes as the flavours of chile, ground cumin, and cilantro marry so well and compliment the fish perfectly.
For the Chermoula:
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red chile, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
a small bunch of cilantro
1-2 teaspoons of ground cumin seeds
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon freshly squeezed
I made the chermoula using a mortar and pestle.
Pound the garlic and chile with the salt to form a paste, added the cilantro and pound to a course paste. Crush in the cumin and bind well with the olive oil and lemon juice.
Reserve 2 teaspoons of the mixture for cooking.
Toss the fish in the marinade and refrigerate for 1-2 hours covered.
2 lbs fresh cod cut into large chunks
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 preserved lemon, finely chopped (I had made this ahead of time and had some already preserved. I will explain how to make these at the end of this blog.)
10-12 vine ripened tomatoes
2/3 cup fish stock or water
2/3 cup sherry or white wine
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a bunch of fresh mint leaves finely shredded
Heat the oil in the tagine. Stir in the onion, carrots and celery and sauté until softened.
Add the preserved lemon (reserve a little for sprinkling) with the reserved 2 tablespoons of chermoula and the tomatoes and stir in well.
Cook gently for about 10 minutes to reduce the liquid, then add the stock and the wine or sherry.
Bring the liquid to a boil, cover the tagine, reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
Toss the fish in the tagine, cover and cook gently for 6-8 minutes, until the fish is cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle with the reserved preserved lemon and the shredded mint leaves and served immediately.
I roasted some potatoes and served this on top. An amazing easy dish, full of flavour!
You add these to many dishes as a refreshing, tangy ingredient or garnish. Preserved lemons are essential to the cooking of tagines and are easy and inexpensive to make. They are great for martini garnishes as well! You can buy jars of ready-made preserved lemons in specialty shops but it is worth making your own.
10 Organic, unwaxed lemons, preferably the small, thin-skinned Meyer variety
10 tablespoons sea salt
freshly squeezed juice of 3-4 lemons
Makes 1 Jar
Wash and dry the lemons and slice the ends off each one. Stand each lemon on one end and make two vertical cuts three-quarters of the way through them, as if cutting them into quarters but keeping the base intact.
Stuff 1 tablespoon salt into each lemon and pack them into a large sterilized jar. Seal the jar and store the lemons in a cool place for 3-4 days to soften the skins.
Press the lemons down into the jar, so they are even and more tightly packed. Pour the lemon juice over the salted lemons until they are completely covered.
Seal the jar again and store it in a cool place for at least 1 month.
Rinse the salt off the preserved lemons before using.