Tajine of red mullet in chermoula
This appealing Mediterranean fish dish will satisfy your hunger.
Like the Moroccan fish stew or the salmon with orange-ginger glaze, this tajine is colorful and full of flavor. It satisfies the kind of hunger that demands that food be substantial but light – summer hunger.
Small red mullet fillets make an attractive presentation, but you can use slices of any firm, white fish. Lacking the clay tajine pot, you can use a heavy-bottomed saucepan. An equally good method is to bake the dish in a casserole. It’s best served right away, but can be made in the morning, refrigerated in its original casserole or saucepan, and gently reheated to serve for lunch or dinner.
Two typical Mediterranean ingredients are featured in this recipe: spicy chermoula marinade and roasted bell peppers, both made in minutes.
- 2 pounds red mullet fillets, cut into large chunks
- 12 small new potatoes or 6 medium-sized potatoes
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 12 cherry tomatoes
- 2 bell peppers of different colors, grilled and sliced into sixths
- 12 green or black olives
- 1 lemon, cut into quarters
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Blend the following ingredients on low speed till a thin, grainy sauce is formed:
- 2 peeled, chopped garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 or 1 fresh red chili
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped fresh coriander leaves
- Juice of 1 lemon
For the chermoula marinade
Reserve 1/4 cup of the chermoula. Place the fish in a deep dish and cover it on all sides with the rest of the chermoula. Cover and put in the refrigerator to marinate for 2 hours.
Wash, but don’t peel, the potatoes. Cook them for 5 minutes in salted, boiling water. Drain, place in cold water, then peel them. Cut into halves if using new potatoes, or quarters if using medium-sized ones.
Gently sauté the garlic in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. This only takes a minute or two over low heat. Raise the heat to medium and add the tomatoes, grilled peppers and reserved chermoula. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Grill whole bell peppers under your oven broiler, or place them on a metal grill over an open flame. Turn them from side to side as their thin skins char and their flesh softens. They should not become completely blackened but will retain their plumpness and color.
Allow the grilled peppers to cool down enough to be handled, then pop them into a plastic bag to cool down. Their skins will then slip off easily. You will need to wet your hands occasionally while peeling.
Slit them open and remove the seeds. Cut them into 4-6 long strips.
(If you like fiery food, try grilling some green or red chilis this way. Be very careful with chilis, however – wear latex gloves while peeling if possible, and don’t touch your eyes or any part of your face if your fingers have come into contact with them.)
Place the potatoes on the bottom of a large casserole (or tajine if you have one).
Spread half the tomato/pepper mixture over them. Put the marinated fish on top, and cover it with the remaining half of the tomato/pepper mixture.
Scatter the olives around the fish and vegetables.
Spoon 2 tablespoons of olive oil over all.
If baking, cover the casserole and cook for 30 minutes at 350° F (180° C) or until fish is cooked through.
If cooking in a tajine, put the lid on and cook over medium heat 15-20 minutes. If using a saucepan, add 1/4 cup water and cook over medium heat 15-20 minutes.
Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over the hot dish.