This recipe is a variation of the traditional Moroccan Baked Fish Tagine. In this version, a large, whole fish is stuffed with a shrimp, olive and rice vermicelli filling and then baked with vegetables. A Moroccan marinade called chermoula adds zesty, saucy flavor.
For the nicest presentation, bake and serve the fish from the same dish. Moroccan bread is traditionally offered for scooping up the fish, vegetables and sauce.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Yield: Serves 6
- 1 large whole fish, about 4 1/2 lbs. (2 kg), cavity cleaned
- --- 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 ---
- 3 oz. (about 90 g) rice vermicelli
- 1/2 cup green pitted olives, coarsely chopped
- 1 lb. (about 1/2 kg) raw medium shrimp, cleaned to yield about 1/4 lb. (250 g)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 small tomatoes (or 1 large tomato), grated
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, pressed or very finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- salt and pepper
- 1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce (optional)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons soy sauce (optional)
- 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into thin sticks
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
- 3 or 4 tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 1 or 2 green peppers, sliced into rings
- 1 lemon, sliced
- olive oil
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.
Cook the Shrimp. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large non-stick skillet. Add shrimp and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Sauté over medium-high for one or two minutes, until the shrimp turns white but the center is still slightly clear. Drain the shrimp, reserving the liquids, and set aside.
Make the Rice Vermicelli and Tomato Sauce. Soak the rice vermicelli in a bowl of water for 15 minutes. Drain.
While the vermicelli is soaking, make the tomato sauce. In a small pot or pan, mix the grated tomatoes, garlic, salt, pepper and vegetable oil. Simmer over medium-low heat, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the parsley, the hot sauce, the soy sauce, the reserved liquids from the shrimp, 1 or 2 tablespoons of water, and the drained rice vermicelli. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the vermicelli is tender and the liquids are absorbed, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, and set aside.
Combine the Filling and Stuff the Fish. Coarsely chop the rice vermicelli into strands 2" to 3" long. Mix the chopped vermicelli with the shrimp and olives. Gently pack as much of the filling as possible inside the cavity of the fish. Sew the cavity closed.
Note: Excess stuffing can be reheated and arranged around the fish at serving time.
Bake the Fish. Preheat an oven to 375° F (190° C). Lightly oil a baking dish with olive oil. Distribute the carrots over the bottom 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 chermoula.
Arrange the potato slices around the fish, and top both the potatoes and fish with tomato slices. Thin the remaining chermoula with 1/4 cup of water and several tablespoons of olive oil, and spoon the mixture over the vegetables. Top the fish and potatoes with the green pepper and lemon slices.
Bake uncovered, basting occasionally, for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until the fish and vegetables are tender and the liquids are reduced. Carefully 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. Arrange any leftover stuffing around the fish, and serve.