Charming Charmoula

Meet me in Morocco...

Chris and I have a tradition -- we go away on vacation every year for the holidays, just the two of us. We usually head off to the Caribbean for a couple weeks of sun and sand, but this time, we've decided to do something a bit different. This year, we're going to Morocco! We'll be spending our Christmas in North Africa, enjoying the "Kingdom of Morocco" and its people, culture and history.  We'll also be taking some cooking classes, which I'm super excited about.

December is not too far away, so Chris has started thumbing through guide books and we're going to start brushing up on our French soon. It's so exciting! I mean, C'est tellement excitant! 

And, we've started cooking like Moroccans as well.

We had some lovely Haddock fillets and I wanted to try something new with them, so when I came across a recipe for "Charmoula" -- a traditional Moroccan cilantro-pesto used as a marinade for fish and vegetable dishes -- I thought it sounded perfect. We had all the ingredients, and it was super easy to make. I tweaked it a bit, using smoked paprika instead of sweet paprika to add a lovely, smoky element to the dish. It was delicious and I will definitely make it again! 
Chris made some brown rice and I sautéed up some baby spinach with olive oil, garlic powder and a couple pieces of bacon (diced) as our sides. The charmoula was very garlicky/spicy when I tested it before pouring over the fish. But, after baking for about 20-25 minutes, the garlic had mellowed and the marinade tasted terrific.

Charming Charmoula
2-4 Haddock filets
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
5-6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Juice of 1 large lemon (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 tsp cayenne or chili pepper
1 1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tomato, seeded, cored and chopped
2 TBS sun-dried tomato, chopped (optional) 
1 TBS butter, diced 

To Do

  • Pat fillets dry and place in an oven-safe dish that's been lightly greased. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Chop the cilantro and parsley and add to a food processor or blender. 
  • Mince the garlic and add it and the spices to the cilantro/parsley mixture.
  • Add the lemon juice and olive oil and blend/process until you have sauce/marinade texture.
  • Chop up the juiced/seeded lemon and add to the fish, along with the sun-dried tomatoes.
  • Pour the charmoula over the fish and top with the chopped fresh tomato.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until the fish is cooked through.
  • During the last 10 minutes of baking, top the fish with the butter.
  • Serve with mounded brown rice and wilted greens, spooning sauce from the hot pan over the fish and rice.