30-MINUTE MEAL: SERIOUSLY GOOD FISH TAGINE WITH FENNEL AND LEMON SALAD30-MINUTE MEAL: SERIOUSLY GOOD FISH TAGINE WITH FENNEL AND LEMON SALADTagine is a dish originated from North Africa and named after the special pot used to cook the dish. Tagine consists of two parts: a base unit that is flat and circular with low sides, and a large cone or dome-shaped cover that sits on the base during cooking. The cover is so designed to promote the return of all condensation to the bottom. When you remove the dome-shaped cover, you can bring the dish straight to the table and serve.

There are several different type of tagines, most common ones you’ll heard are Moroccan tagine and Tunisian tagine. The moroccan tagine is almost stew-like and can be prepared with any type of meats, seafood and vegetables. The Tunisian tagine is almost like a frittata, crispy on the bottom and top and moist inside or some are more like stews, but thickened with beans.

This fish tagine in this recipe is prepared with spices like garam masala, cinnamon, saffron and tomato based. Served with couscos and yogurt mixed with harissa. Oh boy…the combination is so robust in flavor and good. The fennel and lemon salad is a different to me too. I’ve never eaten raw fennels. I didn’t care much for it at first, but the more I ate it, the more I like it.

What you will need:
  • Fennel seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 small red onion
  • ½ a fresh red chili
  • 12 mixed jarred olives, stoned
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 small perserved lemon
  • 1 heaped tsp of garam masala
  • Saffron
  • 4 sprigs of fresh coriander
  • 14 oz (400 g) mussles, cleaned and debearded
  • 9 oz (250 g) couscous
  • 4 x 5-oz (150 g) skinless boneless monkfish fillets (substitute with cod fillet or halibut fillet)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Fennel seeds
  • Garam masala
  • Dried oregano
  • 2 bulbs of fennel
  • 1 lemon
  • A small bunch of fresh coriander
  • 9 oz (250 g) plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp harissa (see note below)
  • Olive oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  1. Get all your ingredients and equipment ready. Turn the grill to full whack. Put a large tagine (if you own one) of casserole-type pan on a medium heat. Put the fine sliced dish attachment into the food processor. Fill and boil the kettle/pot
  2. TAGINE: put a lug of olive oil, a pinch of fenne seeds and 1 cinnamon stick into the large pan. On a plastic chipping board, line up the fish fillets and trim half an inch or so off the ends of each fillet so they're all the same size. Put the fillets into a snug-fitting roasting tray or earthenware dish. Roughly chop the trimmings and add to the large pan, stirring frequently. Peel and finely slice the onion, finely slice ½ a red chili and add both to the pan. Tear in the olives, mix well and leave to cool
  3. COUSCOUS: put the couscous into a serving dish or pan and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Just cover with boiling water (read the instruction on the package of how much water you need), drizzle over some extra virgin olive oil, then cover with a lid or a plate
  4. FISH: drizzle olive oil over the fillets in the roasting tray. Crush in 2 unpeeled cloves of garlic. Scatter over a pinch each of fennel seeds, garam masala, dried oregano and salt and pepper. Toss, then whack under the hot grill on the top shelf for 14 minutes, or until cooked through
  5. TAGINE: roughly chop half the tomatoes, finely chope the rest and add to the pan. Finely chop 1 small preserved lemon and add to the pan with 1 heaped teaspoon of garam masala and a pinch of saffron. Give it a good stir, then pour in 1 cup of water. If you've got a tagine, put the lid on. If not, make a mock lid by tearing off a large sheet of tin foil (slightly longer than your arm's length) and folding it into a cone shape. There's no right or wrong way. Scrunch the edges together and make sure it fits just inside the pan. Finely chop 3 sprigs coriander and add to the pan. Shake the mussels. If any are open, throw them away. Add the musses to the pan. Put the foil lid on top, sitting it just inside the edges of the pan. Leave to tick away for around 8 minutes, or until the mussels have opened
  6. SALAD: trim the base and end of the fennel bulbs, discarding the outer leaves if necessary and reserving the herb ends if you have them for decoration. Halve the bulb, then shred in a food processor, using the fine slicer dish attachment. Squash the lemon with the heel of your hand, then shred in the food processor too. Tip into a large serving bowl. Pick out and discard any end chunks of lemon or fennel. Roughly chop the coriander leaves, then finely slice the stalks, discarding the very ends. Put the stalks into a bowl with a good lug of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix and toss with your hands. Scatter most of the coriander leaves over the salad and take to the table
  7. FISH: check on the fish. If it's cooked through when you cut into it, turn the grill off, cover the fish with an aluminum foil and leave it in the oven until you're ready to eat
  8. YOGURT: put the yogurt into a bowl. Spoon 1 Tbsp of harissa and a good lug of extra virgin olive oil into the center, then gently swirl it through the yogurt. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and take to the table
  9. TO SERVE: take the tagine and couscous straight to the table with the fish. Remove the foil from the tagine. The mussels should all be open, so discard any that aren't. Scatter over the reserved coriander leaves. Fluff up the couscous with fork, have a quick taste to check the seasoning, then serve with some of the lovely fish and tagine
If you can’t find store-bought harrisa mix, you can make you own by using: 3 oz (85 g) dried chili such as guajilo or ancho chili (soaked in warm water until soft), 1 clove garlic, pinch of salt, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp caraway seeds, 1 red bell pepper. Process everything in a food processor into a paste and add some olive oil to help it going. Store it in a container and pour some oil on top of it. Put in refrigerator and may last for 2-3 weeks.


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