Fish Tagine with Chermoula and Moroccan Rice Pilaf

If you haven’t figured this out by now, I really dig my tagine. At first I thought it was just a funny-looking Dutch oven, but I’m discovering that its unusual design is the reason everything that comes out of this North African cooking pot tastes so good.

The tagine’s wide, shallow base lets you start a dish uncovered on the stove top to brown meat and veggies or reduce stock like a sauté pan. Once your stock/sauce is ready, you can just add your remaining ingredients, put the lid on, and keep cooking on the stove top or move everything off to the oven for longer cooks.

Either way, the conical top allows air to circulate above the food without the flavors escaping. The food both steams and roasts (aka braising) at the same time. Yes, you can get a similar effect in a Dutch oven, but because the tagine is wider and shallower, more of the food gets braised rather than boiled.

Finally, it’s hard to beat the presentation when you set the tagine in the middle of the table, pull the lid away, and let all of the wonderful aromas billow out in a cloud of steam. That said, watch your fingers around that steam! I always open it by grabbing the top with an oven mitt.

The Chermoula
A fancy name, but this is just a flavorful Morrocan herb and lemon based marinade that’s traditionally used on fish, but would work well for veggies and chicken too.

1 1/2 pounds cod (or other firm, white fish) fillets
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Put the garlic cloves and salt in a food processor and pulse until the garlic is minced. Add the cilantro, paprika, cumin, ginger, cayenne pepper, oil, and lemon juice and give everything a whirl until it is well-combined.

Put the fish in a zip-top bag and cover with the marinade. Toss to coat and stash in the fridge while you’re putting the pilaf together.

 Moroccan Rice Pilaf
1 cup long grain rice
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 dried cranberries, chopped
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/8 teaspoon saffron threads

Heat the butter and oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and peppers and cook for 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook until the onions are translucent and the rice begins to color.

Add the cinnamon, salt, ginger, cumin, turmeric, cilantro, apricots, and cranberries and stir to combine. Add the stock and saffron to the rice. Bring the stock to a simmer, and taste for salt. Adjust the seasoning. Cover the rice, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently and undisturbed, for about 25 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.

While the rice is cooking, put the tagine together.

The Fish Tagine
The marinated fish and all of the chermoula
1 large onion, chopped
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup black and green olives, pitted
2 tablespoons olive oil

Pour the olive oil into the tagine base and heat on the stove top over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they start to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, ginger, salt, pepper, turmeric, and lemon juice and bring to a low boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the fish, all of the chermoula, and the olives.

Cover the tagine, and cook over low heat for about 15-20 minutes, or until the fish flakes with a fork.

To serve – put down a bed of the pilaf, top with a fish fillet, and cover everything with a scoop of sauce.

The Verdict: ★★★★☆
There are so many flavors going on in this dish that I have no idea where to start. I love the way the fresh green tang of the chermoula pulls the sweet and savory ingredients together.

The dish did end up a little thin. I’d use half the amount of tomatoes next time.

The Nutrition:
6 servings (4 ounces of fish, 1/2 cup of pilaf, a few olives, and a cup of sauce), 443 calories, 11 Weight Watchers points. This is a filling dish, but I’d use less fat and more fish next time.

3 thoughts on “Fish Tagine with Chermoula and Moroccan Rice Pilaf”

  1. You are most welcome!
    I use it way more often than I ever thought I would. I even find myself reaching for the tagine base by itself for roasting veggies on the grill.

  2. I have to get me a tangine, I just wish I had done it when Alexis still worked for Williams Sonoma so I could get it 40% off.

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