Last week I came across red snapper at our grocery store. This must have been some weird fluke because generally it doesn’t show up here – ever. Of course I bought some. I knew that I wanted to do a review of Mourad Lahlou’s new cookbook this week and found the recipe for Black Cod in Saffron Broth. I felt that it wasn’t really fair to review something without making at least one of the recipes first. I decided to give the black cod recipe a go with the red snapper and a few variations. I followed the recipe closely but made a few changes, obviously the fish is different. His recipe also calls for pea shoots, which are long out of season so frozen peas had to do the trick. Here is my take on Chef Lahlou’s recipe.
- 10 red potatoes cleaned
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 lb of red snapper filleted
- 1 tsp saffron threads
- 2 cups vegetable broth or seafood stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp liquid of preserved lemons
- 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- Clean and place potatoes in a pan of salted water. Remove the skin from the garlic cloves and mash slightly or chop and add to the water. Boil potatoes for 10-15 minutes until just tender. Don't over cook them because they will be cooked further in the oven.
- While potatoes are cooking prepare the broth. In another saucepan add the broth or stock, bayleaf, and crushed saffron threads. Boil for 5 minutes until the saffron releases. You should be able to smell the saffron. It has a creamy, smooth flavor that reminds me slightly of butter.
- Prepare your tajine. Preheat the oven to 300F. In the bottom of the tajine add the olive oil. When the potatoes are ready, drain the water and pull out the potatoes. You can choose to remove the garlic or add it to the tajine. Lay the potatoes in a flat layer in the tajine, cutting the larger potatoes in half.
- Cut the fillets of snapper into small portions (see picture) and arrange on top of the potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle the preserved lemon liquid on top of the fish. Finally, pour the saffron broth in with the potatoes. The liquid should NOT reach the fish. Cover the tajine and place in the oven.
- Allow to cook 45 minutes. It is very important to keep the lid of the tajine closed as much as possible. Check at 45 minutes. You want the fish to start flaking. When this happens it is done. At the very end of the cooking process add the frozen peas and cover the tajine again. The peas should be ready within 10 minutes.
- Serve hot with bread to scoop up the fish and juice. This sauce is thinner than most Moroccan tajines. You can choose to remove some of the liquid or leave it.
Overall this recipe got a thumbs up. We really liked the saffron broth, it was soft but had enough flavor. MarocBaba was leery because there aren’t many spices used in this recipe. I think next time I would doctor it up a little more with some cumin and more garlic. However it is a very light dish and a good choice especially for someone looking for a filling but light dish.
You can get a copy of Mourad: New Moroccan on Amazon for $24 and change right now. A great gift for any foodie!
The first time I went to Essaouira I had only been in the physical presence of my then-fiance 5 days. It was on my second trip to Morocco (the first having been when we met). It was in March and I was on spring break from college. I remember the weather being cold as the city sits on the Atlantic ocean. I also remember there was no way I was eating fish or seafood, although he told me that was why people went to Essaouira. Not this girl. Fast forward six years and my affection for seafood has grown leaps and bounds. I was ready to rock the seafood scene.
Clearly, MarocBaba was ready to rock the seafood scene too. Here he is with the one thing I wanted the most – fresh crab! I have to tell you, we did not opt for the tourist fare. I have a “slight” advantage in MarocBaba, he knows what he’s doing, where to go, and what price to pay. Normally I would have been appalled at this hodge podge meal that we procured but I was just in awe at all that was going on and snapping pictures like crazy. If you go to Essaouira you’ll find stalls with tables right off of the main courtyard in the medina. Great seafood (but that’s for another post). If you continue to walk towards the fishing boats to the port or skala you will find the freshest fish. These crabs were alive in a net dangling off the edge. They were pulled in only a few hours earlier.
Added to our three crabs was 1 kilo of fresh shrimp (in the plastic bag) and 13 fresh salt-packed sardines. My mother in law had some shrimp in Marrakech earlier in the week and they were the best shrimp I’ve ever tasted. Much different from what I’ve had in North America (even when we’ve eaten at places on the coasts that have great reputations). The meat was almost sweet, very tender and moist. It did take more work as it’s still in the shell and heads are attached.
No, that’s not a prison. It’s a restaurant! Well kind of. Behind me, from where I was taking this picture is a walkway and then fishing boats. These little cut-outs were once used by fishermen but have now been converted to eating areas. It’s not glamorous…AT ALL. See that blue rain barrel – yea it’s water for washing your hands. In fact I did think twice before walking down the stairs but figured what did I have to lose. Besides it was all locals eating here – to me that’s a sign of great food. The small smoking tin thing – that’s the grill where our cache would be cooked.
This is where our seafood met their final demise. We cozied up inside the cave and began our wait for what was to be a great meal.
The counters and walls are covered in white tiles and at the end of the “cave” (I’m going to call it cave affectionately) is a counter where drinks, salads and bread can be found. We each got these salads and a plate of a harissa sauce, basket of bread as well as sodas. Then it was time to dig in…
To me…the shrimp and crab were a little overcooked. I shouldn’t have been too surprised as Moroccans really like to cook things well when grilling. They were also a lot of work to clean before eating. I felt like by the time I was done cleaning the piece I was eating I would have burned all the calories consumed making it a never ending meal to feel full! The one big surprise was the sardines. I’ve always avoided them big time. However my only exposure to a sardine was the kind in a can, slimy, and packed in oil. MarocBaba begged me to try these and I really resisted. But then I decided to just go for it. I didn’t hate it. It was a much better taste than what I was expecting. I even ended up eating an entire fish. The downside however was the tiny bones. I can’t do bones and fussed with picking them out. This was met with much clicking of the tongue and pushing to “just eat them”. After buying the fish, having them cooked and paying for our extras our total came out somewhere around $25 US. Where we live, we couldn’t even get 1 lb of fresh crab for that price.
If you go to Essaouira and are adventurous try eating this way. I think you’ll really appreciate the experience.
A favorite outing for MarocBaba and I when in Morocco has always being going for pizza. Believe it or not Moroccan pizza is really very good. My first choice is always the pepperoni (because it’s halal) or the margherita dotted with Moroccan black olives. MarocBaba however prefers his pizza to include seafood…like shrimp or anchovies. Boy was that a surprise. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before I was not a seafood fan before marriage. I now like a lot of different kinds of seafood however shrimp on my pizza is not something I’ve been able to enjoy. That doesn’t mean I don’t indulge him however. If you want to give the shrimp-y pizza a shot here’s my recipe!
In it’s raw state…
- pizza dough (use your favorite recipe or store bought)
- 1/4 c wing sauce
- 1/4 c ranch dressing
- 1 handful green olives chopped
- 10-12 shrimp cleaned and chopped
- 1/2 medium onion cut thinly
- shredded cheese (you pick what you like and how much!)
- Preheat an oven to 375F. On a baking sheet flatten the pizza dough to the thickness you like. I tend to make mine a medium thickness. Mix together the ranch and wing sauce in a bowl and spread on the dough. Sprinkle with the shrimp, then olives and onions. Cover with cheese. Place into the preheated oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and crust is crispy and browned on the edges. Serve immediately.
Whew!! This was one of the longest weeks I’ve had in a long time. Generally I only work part-time at my day job however we had a big fundraising event this week (of which I am in charge) and frankly I barely had time to sleep and eat. I believe I punched about 50 hours in a little over 4 days. The good news is that things went great! I’ll be sharing some pictures on here because the event was literature based around books. It was a lot of fun!
We’re down to under two weeks before our big vacation and things are coming together too. I will continue to post and will be posting more regularly. Some of you took part in my survey a few weeks ago. Thank you so much for your input it has really helped me to refine the focus and direction of things. Some things that have come out of it are that overall people do like giveaways, however I am going to really work at making sure they are things that really fit – more food focused, Moroccan and Islamic, green and sustainable. I think that fits with what my goals are for my blog. Another big “wish list” item from the reader survey was more about Moroccan travel and culture. These are things that I really want to work in. I may end up creating some type of “themed” days (nut not in obnoxious way). My upcoming trip should help develop a ton of new ideas, images, and experiences.
The final outcome was more recipes. More traditional Moroccan recipes as well as more recipes from other influences. So I’ll be doing that too. I hope that you’ll continue to keep up the conversation so that I can make this site the best resource possible for you!
Onto the main course – today’s recipe is Citrus Grilled Fish or Shrimp. It’s taken me a really long time to eat and enjoy fish but I can safely say that I would take fish just as soon as I would pick chicken or beef on any given day. It’s all about the preparation.
Today I have a new recipe for you along with meal ideas for tomorrow. I’ve done a lot of prep work ahead of Ramadan as I had a kid-less weekend (makes cooking in large quantities much easier), as well as the help of a good friend! I like to have breads and treats ready for use throughout the month before Ramadan begins. I also try to make several different types of appetizer size food for iftars ready and in the freezer.
Today I’m sharing my recipe for seafood briouats. There are many types of briouats in Morocco – this one – as well as one made with spiced ground beef or lamb, and a sweet version with almond paste. I love them all! However this one might be my favorite.
- 1 cup dry vermicelli noodles
- 1/2 cup chopped green olives
- 1/2 lb cooked shrimp chopped
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- small bunch of cilantro chopped finely
- 1 pkg filo dough or egg roll wrappers
- 1 egg beaten for sealing briouats
Lay filo or egg roll diagonally with the point facing you. Fill with 1-2 tbsp of noodle and shrimp mixture. To roll them, fold over the triangle and roll a 1/2 turn. Fold in the edges and continue rolling.
These will make an eggroll shape. As you tuck the last roll, brush some egg wash onto the end piece to seal the briouat. Lay in a flat layer on a cookie sheet.
These can be partially baked and frozen – to be re-heated when ready to eat. Or they can be deep friend (if using an egg roll wrapper this is a better option). Serve hot! Because all of the ingredients are pre-cooked simply heating up will make them safe to eat.
For tomorrow’s meal plan;
Suhoor -A fast and easy bowl of breakfast couscous with leftover couscous from tonight’s dinner is a healthy and satisfying meal. You can add some fruit or a boiled egg to make it a little more substantial. Drink plenty of water!
Iftar- Time to start using up some of that harira from the first day of Ramadan. If you notice it has a thicker consistency than when you started, add a 1/2 -1 cup of water to thin it down when re-heating. Finish the table with eggs, seafood briouats and dates.
Dinner – For dinner tonight a roast chicken is fast and easy. Clean a whole chicken and rub with your favorite spice mix. Simple salt and pepper, garlic powder and sweet paprika leave a nice flavor. Baste with a good butter. Pair with a lettuce salad with chopped tomato and cucumbers or taktouka.
So how hot is it by you? It’s scorching here – the heat index soared above 100F today and sweat beads were dripping off my face anytime I set foot outside. It’s safe to say I’m not cooking in the house. Why you might ask…we don’t have central air. So today’s recipe is one from my archives. I’ve got 5 weeks of posts coming up that have been planned and are being tweaked as we speak so there is going to be a lot of new things coming your way! If you’re getting ready for Ramadan I encourage you to sign up for my Ramadan newsletter (see the right hand sidebar over there – go ahead and sign up!). Also if you’re looking for even more iftar ideas consider picking up a copy of my e-book.
Onto today’s recipe for a baked fish recipe with charmoula marinade. This is fast, tasty and healthy!
- 4 fillets of white fish such as tilapia, perch, or cod
- 1 lemon
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp crushed garlic
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 2 roma tomatoes
- 1 zucchini or eggplant
After my successful attempt at using my charcoal grill to cook a tajine I’ve played around with a few more recipes. I’m not a huge fish lover but we had purchased a very nice cut of tuna at the market and had some shrimp in the freezer when I put this tajine together. This might not be for everyone, as tuna is generally served partially raw. This recipe completely cooks the fish in the tajine and the flavor might not be one that is typical for tuna. It’s worth a shot though! I would have loved it if it would have been all shrimp!
- 1/4 lb piece of raw tuna
- 10-12 peeled and veined shrimp
- 1 small eggplant partially peeled
- 1-2 potatoes sliced thinly
- 1 handful of italian parsley chopped finely
- 3 tsp chopped garlic
- 1 tsp each salt and pepper
- 2 tsp cumin
- 3-4 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 c of water
Wash and prepare vegetables, slicing thinly. In the bottom of the tajine pour half of the olive oil and grease the bottom. Arrange the potatoes on the bottom of the tajine, with the eggplant on top of the potatoes. Place the tuna in the middle and arrange the shrimp around the edges. In a separate bowl mix the spices, herbs and remaining olive oil. Pour this mixture around the vegetables and fish.
Cover the tajine and place on the grill for about one hour. Check and continue cooking if vegetables are still firm. Check again in 20 minutes.
Note: Try not to open the tajine often as the seal that is created by the heat and the closed tajine is what circulates the heat inside and cooks the meat and vegetables inside.
Once complete serve with crusty bread.
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