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Fish Chermoula

For Chermoula:
1/2 ts Coriander seeds
12 Whole black peppercorns
1/4 ts Dried hot red pepper flakes
A large pinch saffron threads; crumbled
1/2 ts Coarse salt
1 ts Paprika
1 md Onion; minced (about 1 cup)
1/3 c Finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tb Minced preserved lemon peel plus 2 tablespoons preserved lemon juice or fresh lemon juice to taste
2 tb Olive oil
2 tb Finely chopped fresh coriander
1 Garlic clove; minced
6 Skinless small fish fillets such as sea; red snapper, or any bass, other firm white lean fish (about 1 3/4 pounds)
2 tb Unsalted butter
1/2 c Water
4 Fennel bulbs; (about 3 pounds), trimmed and cut lengthwise into thin strips, reserving fronds for garnish if desired

Make chermoula:

In a mortar with a pestle, an electric spice grinder, or a cleaned coffee grinder grind fine coriander seeds, peppercorns, red pepper flakes, and saffron. Transfer spice mixture to a small bowl and stir in remaining chermoula ingredients.

Lightly oil a shallow baking dish just large enough to hold fillets in one layer. Arrange fillets, seasoned with salt and pepper, in dish and top evenly with chermoula. Chill fillets, covered 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large heavy skillet melt butter in water over moderately high heat. Add fennel and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Cook fennel, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 10 minutes more, and season with salt and pepper.

While fennel is cooking, bake chilled fish in oven until it just flakes, 10 to 15 minutes.

Serve each fillet on a bed of fennel and garnish with fennel fronds.

Serves 6.

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