Fish tagine

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Moroccan food is still relatively unknown here and for that reason often misinterpreted. The food is not so spicy and generally quite light, unless you fill yourself up with couscous, that is. Spicy shouldn't always mean hot, and subtle spices like fennel and saffron give a delicate fragrance to tagines, especially of fish. If you have a conical tagine dish, this can be cooked - or at least finished - and served in it.

Moroccan food is still relatively unknown here and for that reason often misinterpreted. The food is not so spicy and generally quite light, unless you fill yourself up with couscous, that is. Spicy shouldn't always mean hot, and subtle spices like fennel and saffron give a delicate fragrance to tagines, especially of fish. If you have a conical tagine dish, this can be cooked - or at least finished - and served in it.

1kg monkfish or huss on the bone, skinned and cut into 3cm slices
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Flour, for dusting
Vegetable oil, for frying
1tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1tbsp finely chopped root ginger
1tsp ground cumin
1/2tsp paprika
1/2tsp crushed fennel seeds
A good pinch of saffron strands
4 tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and roughly diced
1tsp tomato purée
1 litre fish stock (or a good-quality fish stock cube dissolved in 1 litre of hot water)
1 large fennel bulb, cored and quartered
1 preserved lemon, halved
1tbsp chopped coriander

Season the fish pieces and lightly flour them. Heat some vegetable oil in a non-stick or heavy frying pan and sauté them for 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly coloured. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Stir in the onions, garlic, chilli, ginger and spices. Cover and cook gently for 7-8 minutes until soft. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée and stock, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 30 minutes. Then add the fennel and simmer gently for 30-35 minutes more, until the fennel is tender.

Add the fish, preserved lemon and coriander to the sauce and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.

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