Monkfish tagine with autumn squash

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Moroccan food is still relatively unknown over here and it is often misunderstood, too. The food is not as hot and spicy as some may think and what's more, it's generally quite light (unless, or course, you choose to fill yourself up with couscous).

The Moroccan method of spicing is very appealing, and I'm really quite surprised that more people don't go out and eat Moroccan and North African food.

Cooking in a tagine is quite a common way of cooking fish in North Africa, especially fish with a firmer texture. If you happen to have a conical tagine dish, it is great to cook (or at least finish cooking) and serve the stew in it.

Other fish I would recommend for a tagine are huss, snapper, or even a mixture with prawns or pieces of lobster.

1.5kg monkfish 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, de-seeded 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, de-seeded and roughly diced
1 litre fish stock (or a good-quality fish stock cube dissolved in 1 litre of hot water)
500g autumn squash such as butternut, onion or gem, peeled, seeds removed and cut into rough 2cm chunks
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 on a high heat 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 and gently cook the onions, garlic, chilli, ginger and spices. Cover and cook gently for 4-5 minutes until the onions are soft. Add the tomatoes and stock, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by about two-thirds. Add the squash and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.

If you're using a tagine, at this stage transfer the sauce to a tagine (or casserole), add the fish, preserved lemon and coriander to the sauce, cover with the lid and place in a hot oven pre-heated to 230C/gas mark 8 for about 15-20 minutes or until the fish is just cooked.

Serve with steamed couscous.