I love fish and eat it at least once or twice a week and when I saw this recipe in Moro the Cookbook a few days’ ago, I knew I just had to make it. A few years’ ago, I almost lived by Moro: Moro the Cookbook, Casa Moro and Moro East. One of then biggest highlights of the early days of the blog was when I interviewed Sam(uel) Clark at Moro, early one morning as everyone was running around preparing for the lunchtime service. Sam sat podding broad beans while we talked. Moro became a family favourite; my son even chose it for his 30th birthday celebration despite my offering to take him to any London restaurant he chose. And I had a birthday celebration there and my son and daughter bought me Moro the Cookbook, which both Sams signed for me.
Sadly, I haven’t been for a while. Likewise, as always happens, one goes through phases of using a cookbook a lot and then move on. But I do return to all Moro’s books quite frequently for some of the family’s favourite dishes, and it was while looking for one of those that I came across this fish dish.
Just as I love Moro, I love North African food. I’ve been to Morocco a couple of times where I’ve sampled some gorgeous tagines. ‘Tagine’ is actually the name of the dish, the ‘pot’, the food is cooked in. I carried tagines home on the plane after each holiday in Morocco but in all honesty, lovely as they look, I end up using my more traditional pots.
Sam and Sam Clark recommend using hake in this recipe, which I did, but I think you could use cod just as well. The fish is marinaded in a charmoula sauce. I made just half the recipe (for 2 rather than 4) and made appropriate adjustments to ingredients. I like to use my cast iron Le Creuset pots for their tight-fitting lids and the way food cooks so beautifully in them.
Fish Tagine with Potatoes, Tomatoes & Olives – Serves two
- 2 hake fillets
- about 10 small, waxy new potatoes
- 1 large (or 2 small) green peppers
- 1½ tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
- a few oily black olives
- 50ml water
- sea salt and black pepper
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- juice ½ lemon
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ a small bunch fresh coriander
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Make the charmoula first in a mortar and pestle. Pound the garlic with the salt to a smooth paste. Add the cumin, then the rest of the ingredients. Pound until you have a smooth sauce.
I had one large fillet of hake which I cut in half. Put in a dish. Rub two-thirds of the charmoula into the fish. Cover and put in the fridge for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours.
Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender. Drain. When cool cut into thick slices. Lay in the bottom of a pan with a tight-fitting lid (big enough to take the whole dish).
Prepare the green pepper. Either grill over a flame until blackened, or I prefer to put in a hot oven. When blackening and the skin breaking, lift into a freezer bag and close. Leave for about 5 minutes. Then lift out carefully – it will be hot – and run under a cold tap for a few seconds. Then place on a chopping board and remove the skin; it should peel away easily. Cut in half and remove seeds. Then cut into slices.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and heat with the garlic. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until starting to soften. Stir in the prepared green pepper and the rest of the charmoula. Check seasoning.
Place about three-quarters of the tomato and pepper mix over the potato. Lay the marinated fish on top. Put the rest of the tomato mix over the top plus a few nice juicy black olives. Add the 50ml water and drizzle over another tablespoon olive oil. Put the lid on the pan and cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your fish fillets, until the fish is cooked through.
This is a complete dish and doesn’t really need any accompaniment other than perhaps a nice, crisp green salad, which is what I did.
It looked fabulous; it smelled wonderful; and it tasted fantastic. It’s quite a deep-flavoured and earthy tagine and hake is a perfect fish to take the big flavours. I’ve had lighter more summery fish tagines. This one suited the stormy weather outside on this November day. And it brought back wonderful memories of both Moro and Marrakesh.