Chermoula baked fish,pure and simple
Sometimes fish is best left alone, and at other times It can take a good rub or paste to help it on its way. Red Snapper has a great, firm texture and a sweet, nutty flavor that lends itself very well to everything from hot chilies to subtle herbs.
Last week I was putting together a Moroccan-influenced menu for some guests who had booked in for dinner, and was looking for a sauce to pair with a robust fish for baking in the oven.Pargo or African snapper beckoned to me off the cold slab in the market and seemed the perfect choice for this.
Chermoula is one of those sauces—once you taste it, you'll wonder why you´ve never stumbled on it before.Since chermoula can be found in many North African countries and has myriad regional variations, I couldn't find a definitive starting point for my recipe. I approached it focusing instinctively on Moroccan flavours, then tinkered a bit( as usual), eventually coming up with a sauce that proved to be a huge success.
I started with coriander, parsley, and garlic finely choped in the mini processor.I then added in few ubiquitous Moroccan spices like paprika, cumin, chilli, and cinnamon. Then its defining feature—preserved lemon which imparts a strong and unique acidic flavor and a bit of olive oil for the finishing touch.
Chermoula is traditionally paired with fish and as I slathered it on,I imagined it could be be a great change of pace for a quick mid week supper, rubbed onto chicken beasts or even as a dressing for roasted vegetables.
Besides being incredibly versatile and costing next to nothing, the sauce takes only a few minutes to prepare, and can keep refrigerated, for a week or so.
2 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 medium red chilli,finely chopped
1 preserved lemon flesh disarded and peel finely chopped or zest and juice of 1 lime
1 clove garlic,finely chopped
1 heaped tablespoon coriander leaves,chopped
1 tablespoon,parsley leaves,chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
Mix all the ingredients together in aprocessor adding alittle water if it is too thick. Make 3 incisions in each side of your fish and rub the marinade all over the fish and into the incisions.
Serve with a jewelled cous cous,rice or Moroccan sweet potato salad.