Moroccan Fish Tagine
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS: For a bright, flavorful fish tagine, we started by salting chunks of cod to season the flesh and help it retain moisture. We coated the fish in chermoula, a flavorful herb-spice paste of cilantro, garlic, cumin, paprika, cayenne, lemon juice, and olive oil, just before cooking to season its exterior. Softening bell pepper, onion, and carrot before adding the tomatoes and fish ensured that the vegetables would be soft and tender by the time the fish was cooked through. Preserved lemon and olives added acidity, complexity, and salty punch to the broth. To produce moist, flaky cod, we turned off the heat once the broth was bubbling at the bottom of the pot and allowed the fish to cook in the residual heat.
1½ pounds skinless cod fillets (1 to 1½ inches thick), cut into 1½- to 2-inch pieces
¾ teaspoon table salt, divided
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus ¼ cup chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1¼ teaspoons ground cumin 1¼ teaspoons paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 1½ tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 onion, halved and sliced through root end ¼ inch thick
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch strips
1 carrot, peeled and sliced on bias ¼-inch thick
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
⅓ cup pitted green olives, quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons finely chopped preserved lemon
- Place cod in bowl and toss with ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside.
- Pulse cilantro leaves, garlic, cumin, paprika, and cayenne in food processor until cilantro and garlic are finely chopped, about 12 pulses. Add lemon juice and pulse briefly to combine. Transfer mixture to small bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons oil. Set aside.
- Heat remaining ¼ cup oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, bell pepper, carrot, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and their juice, olives, and preserved lemon. Spread mixture in even layer on bottom of pot.
- Toss cod with cilantro mixture until evenly coated, then arrange cod over vegetables in single layer. Cover and cook until cod starts to turn opaque and juices released from cod are simmering vigorously, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let stand, covered, until cod is opaque and just cooked through (cod should register 140 degrees), 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve.
Photo Credit: America’s Test Kitchen