Moroccan fish with chermoula

Yield: 6 servings

Measure Ingredient
1 cup Fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup Fresh parsley
12 \N Garlic cloves
1 teaspoon Salt
2 \N Lemons; juice of or-
3 pounds Fish fillets (hake, sea bass snapper, shad, etc.)
6 \N To 8 tb. vinegar
2 \N To 3 tb. peanut oil
1 tablespoon Paprika
1 tablespoon Ground cumin
1 pinch Cayenne pepper
\N \N Flour for dredging
\N \N Vegetable oil for frying



Place the cilantro, parsley, garlic, salt, lemon juice or vinegar, and oil in the bowl of a food processor or blender and puree. Stir in the paprika, cumin and cayenne. Cut the fillets into 3" pieces and arrange them in a single layer in a shallow pan. Pour the chermoula over the fish and marinate for several hours.

Drain the fish; dredge lightly in flour. Heat vegetable oil to 375 F. in a deep-fryer or a deep skillet. Cook the fish pieces a few at a time until they are golden, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Note: In Morocco, fish is often marinated in chermoula, a pungent sauce whose main ingredient is cilantro, before cooking. In some areas, parsley is combined with the cilantro to temper its exotic taste, as in this version.

The authors write: "Casablanca is a modern city built around and upon tradition. It boasts both extraordinary old homes, their cool dark rooms lined with intricate tilework and beautifully carved wood, and intriguing modern structures. Nezha Ben Hallem and her husband, like many of Casablanca's citizens, live in one of these modern houses, but they still eat traditional Moroccan food. Nezha has been buying herbs and spices from the same merchant for many years. 'The space in the marketplace is passed down from generation to generation,' she explains.

"The herb and spice markets are busy spots. Fresh cilantro and parsley, mint, and scented geraniums are heaped in piles beside bins of dried rosemary and thyme, verbena, and common and uncommon seasonings like gum arabic and rosewater. Other herbs are sold only for medicinal purposes: dill to help jaundice or sticks of licorice to ease sore throats. Occasionally a turtle is offered for sale.

'It's considered lucky to have a turtle in your garden,' notes Nezha.

'They eat the insects.'

"Nezha often buys bunches of fresh cilantro and parsley and heads of garlic so that her housekeeper can make chermoula, a classic Moroccan marinade. This pungent sauce imparts such extraordinary flavor to fish that it is used in every preparation from the simplest fried fillets to more complex dishes that combine the fish with potatoes and tomatoes."

From Nezha Ben Hallem of Casablanca/Morocco in "Cooking with Herbs" by Emelie Tolley and Chris Mead. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1989. Pg. 279. Posted by Cathy Harned.

Submitted By CATHY HARNED On 10-08-94

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