Moroccan cooks traditionally build savory fish tagines like
this one on a base of fresh vegetables. Because the vegetables take longer to
cook than the fish, take a cue from the talented cooks from the port of El
Jadida and parcook the vegetables before adding them to the tagine so that they
are tender when the fish is ready.
lemon (or 6 preserved lemon wedges)
2 medium plum tomatoes, halved crosswise
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 1-inch-thick monkfish or black bass fillets or steaks (6
to 8 oz. each)
3 medium carrots, sliced 1/4 inch thick (2 cups)
1-1/4 lb. medium waxy potatoes (such as White Rose, Red
Bliss, or Yukon Gold), peeled and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick (about 3
1 medium red or yellow bell pepper (or a combination),
sliced lengthwise 1/4 inch thick
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup whole olives
If the preserved lemon is whole, cut it into 4 to 6 wedges.
wedges and remove the seeds, if necessary.
spoon or paring knife, separate the pulp from the peel.
the pulp and set aside.
half of the pieces of peel, then slice each of the remaining pieces into 3 or 4
strips and set aside.
Set a medium-mesh sieve over a large bowl.
over the sieve, run your fingers through the tomato halves to release the seeds
and press the liquid through the sieve, discarding the seeds.
sieve and set a box grater into the bowl.
with one tomato at a time and holding each in the palm of your hand, slowly and
carefully grate the tomatoes on the large holes of the grater until the skin
peels back and the soft flesh has been grated into the bowl; discard the skin.
Add the lemon pulp and chopped peel, parsley, cilantro,
garlic, cumin, paprika, 1/4 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of pepper to the grated
Add 2 Tbs.
of the oil and 2 Tbs. water and mix well. One by one, add the fish
fillets to the marinade, and turn to coat each one before adding the next.
refrigerate, turning the fish once or twice, for 30 minutes
Meanwhile, bring a 4-quart pot of lightly salted water to a
carrots and potatoes and simmer until tender but not falling apart, 6 to 10
Drain in a
colander and let cool slightly.
Heat an 8-inch skillet over medium heat.
bell pepper and 1/4 cup water, cover, and steam until beginning to soften,
about 5 minutes.
the heat; set aside.
Coat the bottom of an 11- to 12-inch tagine with the
remaining 2 Tbs. oil.
arrange the carrots and potatoes over the bottom of the tagine, and drizzle
with 1/4 cup water.
the onion slices and scatter them on top.
fish over the vegetables and spread any remaining marinade lightly and evenly
bell pepper strips on top and dot with the olives and strips of lemon peel.
Put the tagine over medium-low heat and cover with the lid,
propping a wooden spoon between the base and the lid to keep it from sealing.
simmer, nudging the fish and vegetables from time to time to prevent sticking
and swapping the spoon position halfway through, until the fish is opaque
throughout (use a paring knife to check), 30 to 45 minutes.
a few tablespoons of water as necessary during cooking to keep the sauce loose,
or remove the lid at the end of cooking to evaporate and thicken the sauce if it’s
Nutrition information (per serving): Calories (kcal): 440,
Fat (kcal): 19, Fat Calories (g): 160, Saturated Fat (g): 3, Protein (g): 29,
Monounsaturated Fat (g): 12, Carbohydrates (mg): 42, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg):
3, Sodium (g): 510, Cholesterol (g): 45, Fiber (g): 7.