Moroccan-style baked fish recipe

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My introduction to the wonderful spice blend ‘ras el hanout’ was actually in Morocco about 10 years ago. We were travelling with friends and visited what looked like an apothecary with shelf after shelf of tall glass jars filled with vibrantly coloured spices. I will never forget the headiness of the scent. Ras el hanout is a combination of the ‘top drawer’ or more literally ‘head of the shop’ spices. I have read of it being made with up to 28 spices but we make ours (in small quantities) with cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cardamom and black pepper. I make a lot of Mediterranean dishes so I often use it in my cooking these days – it adds such a special note.

  • Yield: 4 Servings


  • 4 x 180 g skinless white fish or salmon fillets, bones removed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
  • 1 tablespoon ras el hanout
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced flat-leaf parsley
  • 2/3 cup (50 g) toasted flaked almonds (optional)
Tomato base
  • 2 tablespoons currants
  • 2 tablespoons verjuice
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 brown onions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • ½ teaspoon ras el hanout
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 lemon, zest removed in wide strips using a peeler
  • 1 x 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup (200 g) wholemeal couscous
  • 2 cups (500 ml) chicken or vegetable stock
  • 30 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 carrots, quartered lengthways and sliced on the diagonal
  • Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
How to Make It
  1. To make the tomato base, soak the currants in verjuice for 1 hour or overnight if time permits.
  2. Preheat the oven to 220°C (fan-forced).
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes or until translucent but not coloured. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in the ras el hanout and saffron threads and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the currants and verjuice and simmer for 30 seconds, then add the lemon zest and tomatoes. Simmer for 8–10 minutes or until thickened. Pour the sauce into a shallow ovenproof baking dish.
  4. Meanwhile, to make the couscous, place the stock in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Place the couscous into a heatproof bowl, stir in the boiling stock, then cover immediately and leave for 5 minutes. Add the butter and use a fork to fluff up and separate the grains. Cook the carrots in lightly salted boiling water for 2–3 minutes or until tender. Drain and stir into the couscous, then season to taste, cover and keep warm.
  5. Rub the fish with olive oil, then season with salt and ras el hanout. Place on top of the tomato base and bake for 7 minutes or until the fish is just cooked. Remove from the oven and stand for 5 minutes. Scatter with the parsley and toasted almonds, if using, and serve with the warm couscous.

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