Classic Moroccan Fish Tagine – Fish Tagra Recipe

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As a British-born Moroccan, my childhood summers were a perfect blend of two completely different worlds. Each year, I would get to visit Morocco with my family, where I was able to immerse myself in the culture and traditions of Moroccan life. One dish that always stood out during these trips was the classic Moroccan fish tagine.

This dish, with its layers of fish, potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers, cooked in a rich and zesty sauce was always a staple on our family table during our summer adventures. This Fish Tagine is also known as Fish Tagra because it is traditionally cooked in a ‘Tagra‘ pot, a round or oval clay casserole dish similar to a tagine, but usually unglazed & without a top or cover. The fish and vegetables are all layered over each other and then cooked over an open fire or on the stove. This is also why it would be particularly popular to cook at the beach.

Summers in Morocco were a feast for our senses, filled with the sights, sounds, and most importantly, the flavours of Morocco. Fish is so much more affordable in Morocco than in the UK, and it’s always so fresh Masha Allah. Other vegetables and ingredients that complement it are also abundant and cost-effective, such as aubergine, peppers, red onion and good-quality olive oil.

It is also interesting to note that aside from being called ‘Tagine Al Hout‘, translating to Fish Tagine, this dish is also known as ‘Hout Mqualli because ‘Mqualli’ is a term used to describe anything that is cooked with chermoula. Chermoula is a zesty Moroccan marinade made with a garlic, lemon and herb base, with some variations adding harissa for an extra kick of flavour.

What type of fish can be used for Fish Tagra?

Any fish is usable for this recipe, only the cook time will need to be adapted according to the type of fish it is. We love to use Cod or Haddock, however, any firm, thick fish can be used—cut up or whole—Some say slices of conger eel work best because they don’t have too many bones. Swordfish, Dorado, large whole whiting and sea bass are other good choices. My mum uses sardines even.

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What if I don’t have a Tagra or Tagine?

To make this Moroccan fish recipe, you don’t have to have a tagine or tagra. Instead, you can maybe use a Dutch oven, a large deep skillet or a sauté pan. A braiser can also work and there’s also the option to layer all the ingredients in an oven/casserole dish and bake it in the oven. When baking in the oven, cover the oven dish with some foil, initially, to allow the juices to come out and the potatoes to cook through properly, then uncover the oven dish and put it under the grill for a few minutes to allow the top to golden and edges to crisp. The juice should also thicken slightly and absorb, but make sure there’s enough sauce to scoop up with some bread.

Marinate the Fish

One of the key secrets to the perfect Fish Tagine is to allow the fish to Marinate. It needs a minimum of 2-3 hours for the flavours of the chermoula to properly absorb into the fish but ideally, it’s best to leave it marinating throughout the night. Just make sure it’s in an air-tight container or well-covered or sealed to prevent the fish from smelling out your fridge 😉

What is Fish Tagine Served with?

This tasty Moroccan fish recipe is usually always the star of the show, but for the complete Moroccan experience, you have to serve it with some Moroccan bread and Moroccan cucumber and/or carrot salad.

Ingredients needed for Moroccan Fish Tagine

  • 900g cod or firm white fish
  • 1 batch of chermoula marinade
  • 2 bell peppers, ( I prefer 1 green and 1 yellow for the colour contrast)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into rings (optional)
  • 2 large potatoes, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 4-5 fresh tomatoes, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1 lemon, cut into thin slices, or 1 preserved lemon, quartered

How to make Moroccan Fish Tagine

  1. Prepare the chermoula marinade and wash & marinate the fish for at least 2 hours or even better overnight.
  2. Peel and slice the tomato, then slice the onion and bell pepper into rings.
  3. Peel, wash and slice the potatoes then combine the ginger, salt, pepper, turmeric and some olive oil, coat the potato slices in it and set aside.
  4. In a tagra pot, oven or casserole dish, brush the base with some olive oil and smother with some chermoula marinade.
  5. Layer the marinated base with sliced tomato and onion rings, followed by a layer of sliced potato.
  6. Top the potato layer with all the fish pieces and all its juice and marinade, then cover the fish with the peppers and any remaining vegetables.
  7. Add 1 tbsp of chermoula marinade to a cup, dilute it with 4 tbsp of water and pour over the vegetables. Decorate the top with some fresh or preserved lemons, and olives for additional flavour.
  8. Cook the tagine on low heat over a fire or on the stove until the fish is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.
  9. When the fish tagine is ready sprinkle over with some fresh-cut parsley and serve it hot with some Moroccan bread for a truly authentic experience.

Moroccan Fish Tagine

This dish, with its layers of fish, potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers, cooked in a rich and zesty sauce was always a staple on our family table during our summer adventures. This Fish Tagine is also known as Fish Tagra because it is traditionally cooked in a 'Tagra' pot, a round or oval clay casserole dish similar to a tagine, but usually unglazed & without a top or cover. The fish and vegetables are all layered over each other and then cooked over an open fire or on the stove. This is also why it would be particularly popular to cook at the beach.
Servings 6
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Marinating time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes

Equipment

  • 1 tagine, tagra or oven dish
  • 1 Food Processor to blend the charmoula (marinade)

Ingredients

  • 900 g cod or firm white fish
  • 1 batch of chermoula marinade
  • 2 bell peppers ( I prefer 1 green and 1 yellow for the colour contrast)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion cut into rings (optional)
  • 2 large potatoes sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 4-5 fresh tomatoes peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1 lemon cut into thin slices, or 1 preserved lemon, quartered

Instructions

  • Prepare the chermoula marinade and wash & marinate the fish for at least 2 hours or even better overnight.
  • Peel and slice the tomato, then slice the onion and bell pepper into rings.
  • Peel, wash and slice the potatoes then combine the ginger, salt, pepper, turmeric and some olive oil, coat the potato slices in it and set aside.
  • In a tagra pot, oven or casserole dish, brush the base with some olive oil and smother with some chermoula marinade.
  • Layer the marinated base with sliced tomato and onion rings, followed by a layer of sliced potato.
  • Top the potato layer with all the fish pieces and all its juice and marinade, then cover the fish with the peppers and any remaining vegetables.
  • Add 1 tbsp of chermoula marinade to a cup, dilute it with 4 tbsp of water and pour over the vegetables. Decorate the top with some fresh or preserved lemons, and olives for additional flavour.
  • Cook the tagine on low heat over a fire or on the stove until the fish is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.
  • When the fish tagine is ready sprinkle over with some fresh-cut parsley and serve it hot with some Moroccan bread for a truly authentic experience.

Notes

Sometimes, with some types of potato, the potato can remain hard while all the other ingredients are tender and cooked. This can happen if it is cut too thick or not placed in the bottom layer over the tomatoes which will help give enough juice to cook. If this happens to you, just add a little bit more boiling water to the bottom of the pot to allow the potatoes more time to cook without burning the bottom.
Other ways you can avoid this problem is by choosing the softer and easier to cook type of potatoes or part boiling the potatoes whole before peeling and slicing them into rounds or you can choose not to include the potatoes at all.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Moroccan
Keyword: cassarole, Fish, Tagine

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