If you aren’t familiar with Chermoula, it’s a condiment or marinade of sorts that hails from North Africa. It is a delicious blend of fresh herbs, rich spices and a kiss of lemon.
Like most native dishes, the flavors, spices, herbs and other ingredients vary from region to region and house to house. Said to be born in Morocco, Chermoula has traveled the world. With just a hint of floral and, when used in moderation, this flavorful condiment will bring new depth and flavor to various foods. Traditionally used to season fish, Chermoula has since been added to flavor rice, served with poultry and even dolloped over vegetables such as grilled eggplant. During the Obama Administration, Chermoula has been served up at a White House State Dinner. Yep, put a little of this on your plate and you’ll be dining like the movers and shakers of Washington. Wither or not that’s a good thing is a personal issue. I’m just sharing a little history from a culinary standpoint.
Pan-Roasted Halibut with African Chermoula
Ingredients – Chermoula
1 Cup Fresh Cilantro leaves
¼ Cup Fresh Parsley leaves
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
Zest of 1 lemon
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Shallot, chopped
1 Teaspoon ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon Paprika
½ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
¼ Teaspoon Salt
Pinch or so of sugar to taste
2 teaspoons ginger (optional)
Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
For the Chermoula: Process all the ingredients (starting with cilantro leaves; ending with a pinch of saffron) in a food processor until smooth, about 20 seconds, stopping to scrape down bowl as needed. Transfer to serving bowl. Let sit until ready to use. The longer it sits, the more the flavors blend and mature.
Ingredients – Halibut
8 Halibut Fillets, skinless (6-8 oz each, about 1 ½-inches thick)*
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 Limes, cut in half
For the Pan-Roasted Halibut: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425-degrees. Spray rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
Pat fish dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Rub with lime and sprinkle sugar evenly over 1 side of the fish fillets. Heat 1-tablespoon oil in a nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking.
Place half of the fillets in skilled, sugar side down, and press down lightly to ensure even contact with pan. Cook until browned, 1-1 ½ minutes. Using TWO spatulas, transfer fish to prepared baking sheet, browned side up. Wipe out skillet with paper towels and repeat with remaining fillets.
Roast fillets until fish flakes apart when gently prodded with paring knife and internal temperature registers 140 degrees, about 7-10 minutes. Transfer fish to a serving platter, spoon some Chermoula over top. (Unless you are into pungent Moroccan flavors, use sparingly – like most dishes that include Saffron, it’s an acquired taste). Serve, passing remaining Chermoula separately to add as desired.
* Note: If you cannot find Halibut, you can use any firm-bodies white fish. I’ve even used Mahi-Mahi and it is just as delicious.
Okay, it’s confession time. At a local Antique Street Fair while back, I treated myself to something truly beautiful that I want to bring out of wraps and use at a finely set table. Aren’t these beautiful? They are designed especially for fish – hence the rekindled interest in serving up a wonderful Fish Supper in observance of Lent.