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One New Med Recipe: North African Spiced Marinated Fish (Chermoula)

March 10, 2011

Chermoula Spices

Now that my children have their own apartments, I don’t see their friends quite as often.  I miss seeing them and hearing about their lives; I even miss having them survey and empty the contents of my refrigerator!  This week I was able to try out one new Med recipe on three of my daughter Casey’s closest friends.  Casey and her friends have come a long way since they met in second grade – in many ways, and especially food wise.

Casey loves spices, so I chose Nancy Jenkins’ recipe for a spicy marinade called Chermoula.   As Nancy writes in her book, The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook, “this deliciously fragrant marinade will lend flavor interest to just about any kind of fish or seafood.  In fact, I can’t think of any seafood that won’t benefit from a bath in this Moroccan mix.”

The list of ingredients may look long, but this dish is quick and easy, and perfect for an evening with old friends.  Of course, this is the real Mediterranean way — enjoying dinner with family and friends makes everything taste even better.

Ingredients:
half a large bunch of fresh cilantro
half a large bunch of flat-leaf parsley
8 garlic cloves, crushed with the flat blade of a knife
1 teaspoon of sea salt, or more to taste
1 tablespoon freshly ground cumin, or more to taste
1 tablespoon ground or crushed dried red chili pepper (piment d’Espelette or Aleppo pepper is best), or more to taste
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 to 8 small salmon steaks, each weighing about 5 ounces

Chop together the cilantro and parsley to make 1 cup of very finely minced fresh herbs.

Crush the garlic with the salt to make a smooth paste. (You can do this in a mortar, or simply using the back of a spoon, crush the garlic and salt together in a small bowl.) Combine the garlic paste, minced herbs, cumin, chili, paprika, olive oil, and lemon juice in a small saucepan or skillet. Set over medium heat and warm just until the mixture is very hot but do not let it boil. (You should be able to hold your finger in it to a count of ten.) Taste the mix and adjust the seasoning, adding more of the salt, peppers, oil, or lemon juice if it needs it.

Set the fish steaks in an oven dish large enough to hold them all in one layer. Pour the warm marinade over the fish and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for an hour or so, refrigerating if necessary. (The fish can marinate for several hours or even overnight if refrigerated.)

When you’re ready to cook, set the oven at 450 degrees.

Uncover the fish and transfer the dish, with the marinade, to the preheated oven. Every 5 minutes or so, baste the fish with some of the marinade. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the fish is done and flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Serve immediately, spooning a little of the marinade over each serving.

NOTE:  In The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook Nancy suggests also using chermoula with sautéed squash.  I can’t wait to try it.

— Sara

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