Fish Tagine with Preserved Lemon and Mint
The ﬁsh tagines of coastal Morocco are often made with whole ﬁsh, or with large chunks of fleshy ﬁsh such as sea bass, monkﬁsh and cod.
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- 2 pounds fresh fish fillets, such as cod or haddock, cut into large chunks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
- 1 preserved lemon* finely chopped
- 1 14oz can of plum tomatoes with their juice
- 2/3 cup fish stock or water
- 2/3 cup white wine or fino sherry
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- a bunch of fresh mint leaves, finely shredded
For the Chermoula:
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 cup chili deseeded and chopped
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- a small bunch of fresh coriander/cilantro
- a pinch of saffron threads
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
- 10 organic, unwaxed lemons, plus the juice of 3–4 lemons
- 10 tablespoons sea salt
- a large sterilized jar
- First, make the chermoula. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and chilli/chile with the salt to form a paste. Add the coriander/cilantro leaves and pound to a coarse paste. Beat in the saffron threads and cumin and bind well with the olive oil and lemon juice (you can whizz all the ingredients together in an electric blender, if you prefer). Reserve 2 teaspoons of the mixture for cooking. Toss the ﬁsh chunks in the remaining chermoula, cover and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for 1–2 hours.
- Heat the oil in a tagine or a heavy-based casserole. Stir in the onion, carrots and celery and sauté until softened. Add the preserved lemon (reserving a little for sprinkling) with the reserved 2 teaspoons 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 the boil, cover the tagine, reduce the heat and simmer for 10–15 minutes.
- Toss the ﬁsh chunks 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 serve immediately.
*Preserved Lemons (makes a large jar)
- Wash and dry the lemons and slice one of the ends off each lemon. Stand each lemon on the ﬂattened 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 a tablespoon of salt into each lemon and pack them into the prepared jar. Store the jar of lemons in a cool place for 3–4 days to soften the skins.
- After this time, press the lemons down into the jar, so they are even more tightly packed. Pour the lemon juice over the salted lemons, until they are completely covered. Seal the jar and store it in a cool place for at least a month.
- To use, rinse the salt off the preserved lemons and pat them dry. Using a small sharp knife, cut the lemons into quarters lengthways and remove all the ﬂesh and pith so that you are just left with the rind. Finely slice or chop the rind according to the recipe.
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