Chermoula Fish Tagine

  • Servings : 4
  • Prep Time : 45m
  • Cook Time : 40m
  • Ready In : 1:30 h

The recipe

Chermoula Fish Tagine is basically pieces of white fish marinated in spices and then cooked into a fish stew using a fish stock and red peppers and carrots. It has a slightly tangy flavour when preserved lemons are used or more honey could be used if you wish to sweeten it.

It is best to use a good quality fish stock which you can make yourself, while the onions and peppers are cooking, using the left over bones if you fillet a whole fish yourself or you could ask the fishmonger to prepare that for you.

Chermoula – Although used mainly as a marinade, there are many variations of chermoula, using different spices in varying quantities added to fresh coriander leaves, garlic and chilli. Chermoula can also be used as the base of a sauce in which to cook fish, meat or poultry, and vegetables.

You can remove olive stones by crushing the olives with the palm of your hand and removing the stones.

A Tagine is a North African Berber dish named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked. The method of cooking involves cooking meat, fish, beans or vegetables in a gravy in a clay dish over a heat source, traditionally hot charcoal, and covered by a cone-shaped lid with a hole in the top which allows steam to pass out and some condensation to return back to the dish. It is a slow method of cooking which can be substituted by using a tagine on a gas or electric stove top on top a diffuser (a circular mesh of aluminium between the tagine and the heat source) or cooking slowly in a casserole dish in an oven or a large saucepan on a stove top.


  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 small fresh green chilli, finely chopped
  • handful coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 750g white fish fillets, cut into large chunks (I used bream but it works well with cod or hake for example)
  • 2 small red onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • ½ fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 3.5 cm cinnamon stick
  • ⅛ tsp saffron threads
  • 1 small preserved lemon, chopped
  • handful of green olives, stones removed
  • 8 medium sized carrots, cut into small, thin batons
  • 1 tbsp runny honey
  • 6 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 400ml quality fish stock
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Fresh chopped herbs as a garnish e.g. coriander leaves, mint or parsley


Step 1

To make the chermoula. In a large bowl mix 3 tbsp. of the olive oil, the crushed and chopped garlic, cumin, paprika, green chilli, coriander leaves, lemon juice and some salt.

Step 2

Add the fish fillets to the chermoula and coat each piece. Reserve any additional marinade in a separate small bowl. Cover the bowl containing the fish and place in the fridge for about half an hour while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Step 3

Heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan (or tagine) and add the onion, garlic, red bell pepper, chilli and the cinnamon stick and fry for about 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are slightly softened.

Step 4

Add the saffron and any reserved marinade to the pan with the preserved lemon and stir in. Add the olives, carrots, honey and the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes.

Step 5

Add the fish stock, season with salt and black pepper to taste and cover. Simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the carrots are nearly cooked, which may be longer if you are slow cooking in a tagine.

Step 6

Add the fish and cover with the sauce and cook for a few minutes until the fish is cooked through. Add water if required or reduce the liquid with the lid off at the end if necessary. Garnish with herbs. Serve hot with couscous.

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