Before I met my husband fish and seafood was something that I ate on a very rare occasion and in small quantities. Not to mention it was usually the deep fried type. I didn’t really “like” it. But fish was something my husband had grown up with, especially sardines and anchovies (I’m not there yet!) So the first time a fish tajine graced the table in my presence I shuddered. I stepped back from the table and politely declined and munched on some bread. My husband kept coaxing me to just try it and I decided I had to not to offend the cook. Very gingerly I took a little bite and BAAM – can you believe I liked it? This did not taste like any fish I had ever tasted! Over the years I’ve adapted the traditional method a little because I don’t like fish skin, or bones or heads (usually this is made with a whole fish). This is pretty fast and very tasty – even for people who don’t “like” fish they might be surprised!
2 fish fillets (I usually use salmon, or a white fish like cod or talapia but any fish will work)
4-5 small red potatoes (any potatoes work but red cook faster)
1 small onion
2 large tomatoes or several small
3 tbsp cumin
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp hot paprika
handful of chopped cilantro
2 tsp minced garlic
3 tsp olive oil
Wash and remove skin of all vegetables (you can leave it on the tomatoes and red potatoes if you’d like). Slice all of them very thinly, as thin as you can get them as this will aid in cooking time. Keep the tomatoes separate but add the remaining vegetables to a large mixing bowl. In another bowl combine all of the spices and mix together. Reserve 2-3 tsp of the spices, and pour 1 tsp of olive oil onto the vegetables – combine well and then sprinkle the rest of the spices onto the vegetables. Mix well so that they are covered.
In a flat baking pan arrange all of the vegetables – trying to keep them as flat as possible. Layering them will cause them to take longer to cook through.
Preheat the oven to 350 at this time.
Wash and dry off the fish. If using a fish with skin , you can choose to remove the skin or keep it on. I always remove it because I don’t like even looking at it! Once the fish is ready place it into the baking sheet on top of the vegetables. Take the tomatoes and arrange them on top of the fish and the other vegetables. The liquid will help cook them. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the fish and the vegetables, and top the fish and tomatoes with the reserved spices. Squeeze the lemon over the entire dish, being careful to remove the seeds.
Place into the preheated oven and bake until the fish starts to flake the vegetables are tender. If you have a fast cooking fish, you could pre-steam the vegetables before seasoning and adding to the oven so that the fish doesn’t cook too long, waiting for the veggies to catch up!
Eat while hot with crusty bread. I usually serve with a quartered lemon for guests to squeeze more lemon if they desire.