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Tagine of Fish with Chickpeas and Roasted Peppers
(recipe, Joyce Goldstein)
Fish with chickpeas is a very popular dish in Morocco, especially in Fez and Rabat. A firm fish such as sea bass, snapper, halibut, or cod will work very well in this tagine. It is particularly delicious served with braised Swiss chard or a combination of braised greens, such as Swiss chard, kale, escarole, collards, etc.
If you do not have time to roast the peppers, use 8 jarred piquillo peppers instead. If you do not have time to make chermoula, rub the fish with a little fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.
- 8 oz. dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight, then drained and rinsed
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 red bell peppers
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1½ lb. thick fish fillets
- ½ cup chermoula (see Note)
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1 tsp. sweet paprika
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Zest of 1 small preserved lemon, cut into thin strips
- Couscous, for serving
- Put the chickpeas and the garlic cloves in a saucepan and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Add 2 teaspoons salt after about 15 minutes. (The chickpeas can be prepared a day or so ahead and stored in their cooking liquid.)
- Roast the bell peppers over an open flame until charred on all sides. Put in a plastic bag to sweat. When the peppers are cool, scrape away the peels, cut off the tops, and remove the seeds. Cut into ½-inch-wide strips and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil. (The peppers can also be prepared a day or so ahead.)
- About 4 hours before cooking, rub the fish with chermoula and refrigerate until needed.
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a tagine over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 8 minutes, until tender and translucent. Add the garlic, turmeric, paprika, cayenne pepper, and half the cilantro. Cook for a few minutes longer. Add the chickpeas and their liquid and simmer for 5 minutes to blend the flavors. Add the bell peppers along with the lemon zest. (You can prepare the dish ahead to this point.)
- Arrange the fish fillets atop the chickpeas. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the fish appears opaque when probed with the point of a knife, about 15 to 20 minutes. Adjust the seasoning of the pan juices and sprinkle with the remaining cilantro. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, over couscous if you like.
Chermoula is a marinade for fish. Make your own a day or two in advance.