Moroccan Fish Tagine

By Beacon Staff

Few meals are more satisfying and flavorful during the winter than the rich and fragrant Moroccan stew known as tagine.

On Saturday, April 12, students of the Culinary Institute of Montana at FVCC will prepare and present a special Casablanca Chef’s Table Dinner.

Among the entrees will be a marinated fish stew, cooked in a clay dish with a tagine lid. This dish presents wonderfully – upon lifting the lid, the steamy aromas excite your taste buds.

This recipe serves four and is prepared using a four-inch deep ceramic baking dish that can be brought right to the table.

CHARMOULA (fish marinade)

  • 2 tsp. of cumin seeds, preferably Moroccan
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp. fresh flat parsley, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Meyer lemon, pulp and peel separated
  • 4 tbsp. fruity extra-virgin olive oil


  • 1 1/2 lbs. thick white fish steaks— true cod, halibut or monkfish (my favorite)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 lb. red tomatoes, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1 green bell pepper, cored and sliced thinly into rounds
  • 24 green ripe olives, rinsed and pitted
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Cilantro sprigs, for garnishing


In a mortar or blender, combine the cumin, salt and garlic.

Pound or blend into paste.

Add paprika, red pepper flakes, parsley, cilantro, Meyer lemon pulp and olive oil, and puree to a smooth sauce.


Rinse fish, pat dry and cut into four even pieces.

Rub half the charmoula all over the fish, and let stand for one hour in room temperature, or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Add ½ cup of cold water to the remainder charmoula, cover and refrigerate.

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Spread two tablespoons of charmoula on the bottom of a baking dish.

Scatter carrots and celery evenly over charmoula.

Layer half the tomatoes and green peppers on top of other vegetables and sprinkle lightly with charmoula.

Nestle the fish on top and cover with remaining tomatoes and green peppers.

Spread remaining charmoula on top and sprinkle lemon peel, olives and bay leaves around the fish.

Cover baking dish with tagine lid or wrap tightly with foil.

Bake for one hour.

Remove from oven and pour the juice into a sauce pan.

Simmer until reduced to a half-cup.

Turn oven up to 425 degrees.

Bake fish (basting with reduced liquid) until a crust is formed on the vegetables and fish (about 15 minutes).

Garnish with cilantro and serve hot, removing the Tagine lid in front of your guests.