Whole fish are marinated in chermoula and stuffed with a saffron rice and olive filling. The addition of carrots and tomatoes makes this a delicious one-dish meal.
For the nicest presentation, bake and serve the fish from the same dish. A single whole fish or several smaller fish can be used. Moroccan bread is traditionally offered for scooping up the fish, vegetables and sauce.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Yield: Serves 4 to 6.
- 3 lbs. (1 1/2 kg) fresh whole fish, washed and cavity cleaned
- several celery stalks, cut into long, thin sticks
- 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into very thin sticks
- 2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 1 small lemon, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped green olives
- olive oil
- salt, pepper, ginger
- --- For the Chermoula ---
- 1 large bunch cilantro (coriander), finely chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- --- For the Stuffing ---
- 1 cup rice
- 2 1/4 cups light chicken or fish broth
- small pinch of saffron threads, crushed
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 colored bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped green olives
- salt and cayenne pepper
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chermoula
Make the Chermoula. Mix all of the Chermoula ingredients, adding a little more lemon juice or vegetable oil if necessary to thin the marinade. Taste and adjust the seasoning so that the chermoula is as salty, lemony, and spicy as you like.
Wash and dry the fish. Widen the cavity as much as possible to make ample room for the stuffing. Spread some chermoula inside the cavity and set the fish aside.
Make the Rice Stuffing. Wash and drain the rice. Place the rice in a pot along with the broth and saffron and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the rice, covered, for about 25 minutes, or until all the liquids are absorbed.
While the rice is cooking, melt the butter in a skillet. Add the onion, celery and bell pepper, and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until the vegetables are crisp-tender and a bit translucent. Remove from the heat and set aside.
When the rice has finished cooking, toss it gently with the sauteed vegetables, olives and two big spoonfuls of chermoula. Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper.
Stuff the Fish. Gently pack as much of the rice filling as possible inside the cavity of the fish. Sew the cavity closed. (Note: Excess rice can be reheated and offered on the side at serving time.)
Bake the Fish. Preheat an oven to 400° F (200° C). Lightly oil a baking dish with olive oil. Arrange the celery sticks across the middle of the dish, crossing them to create a bed for the fish. Place the fish in the center of the dish and spread the fish with half of the remaining chermoula.
Arrange the carrots around the fish and top them with the tomatoes. Season the vegetables with a little salt, pepper and ginger. Thin the remaining chermoula with 1/4 cup of water and several tablespoons of olive oil, and spoon the mixture over the vegetables. Add the chopped olives and arrange the lemon slices on top of the fish.
Bake the fish, covered, for 45 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking, basting occasionally, for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until the carrots are tender and the sauce is reduced and thick. Remove the thread used to sew the fish closed.
Serve the fish directly from the baking dish, or carefully transfer the fish to a platter with the vegetables and sauce. Leftover rich can be arranged around the fish or on separate plates. Serve immediately.