The bright colors and flavors literally pop off the plate in this lovely, healthy fish tagine. And with a few tweaks, we bolstered that brightness by doubling the amount of carrots and green olives. Pairing it with a side of tricolored couscous to help soak up the luscious sauce didn’t harm the color palette either!
For a bright, flavorful fish tagine, start by salting chunks of cod to season the flesh and help it retain moisture. Coat the fish in chermoula, a flavorful herb-spice paste of cilantro, garlic, cumin, paprika, cayenne, lemon juice, and olive oil, just before cooking to season its exterior.
Softening bell pepper, onion, and carrot before adding the tomatoes and fish ensures that the vegetables will be soft and tender by the time the fish has cooked through. Preserved lemon and olives add acidity, complexity, and salty punch to the broth. To produce moist, flaky cod, turn off the heat once the broth is bubbling at the bottom of the pot and allow the fish to cook in the residual heat.
You can substitute red snapper or haddock for the cod as long as the fillets are 1 to 1½ inches thick. Picholine or Cerignola olives work well in this recipe. Serve this dish with flatbread, couscous, or rice.
Moroccan Cod Tagine for Two
- 12 ounces skinless cod fillets (1 to 1½ inches thick), cut into 1½- to 2-inch pieces
- ½ teaspoon table salt, divided
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus 2 tablespoons chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- ½ onion, sliced through root end ¼ inch thick
- ½ green bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch strips
- 1 small carrot, peeled and sliced on bias
- ¼ inch thick¾ cup canned diced tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons pitted green olives, quartered lengthwise
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon
- Place cod in bowl and toss with ¼ teaspoon salt. Set aside.
- Pulse cilantro leaves, garlic, cumin, paprika, and cayenne in food processor until cilantro and garlic are finely chopped, about 12 pulses. Add lemon juice and pulse briefly to combine. Transfer mixture to small bowl and stir in 1½ tablespoons oil. Set aside.
- Heat remaining 1½ tablespoons oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, bell pepper, carrot, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and their juice, olives, and preserved lemon. Spread mixture in even layer on bottom of saucepan.
- Toss cod with cilantro mixture until evenly coated, then arrange cod over vegetables in single layer. Cover and cook until cod starts to turn opaque and juices released from cod are simmering vigorously, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and let stand, covered, until cod is opaque and just cooked through (cod should register 140 degrees), 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve.
Adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated