We spent the first day of Sukkot with our married daughter and her young family. My daughter prepared all the meals, and since we don’t take photos on Yom Tov, I don’t have any to show you. But I wish I could show you the very delicious fish she made for the evening meal.
I am fortunate that my daughter married a boy from a Tunisian/Moroccan background. Apart from the fact that he’s an adoring husband to my daughter and a wise, gentle Abba to my little grandsons, I’m lucky that his Moroccan mother taught my girl so many of her recipes. Over time, some of the recipes and techniques have floated over to me. This recipe doesn’t have a name, that I know of. The ladies just call it fish, and serve it most weeks on Shabbat. So I’ll name it: Moroccan Shabbat Fish. Took me a while to come up with that.
Moroccan Shabbat Fish
Serves 4 as a main dish, 8 as a hot first course.
1 1/2 kg. firm white fish. Fresh is best, but Nile Perch is a good alternative.
Juice of 1/2 lemon, if fish was frozen
1 package of cilantro, or parsley if preferred
2 onions, halved if only medium-sized, quartered if large
4 large cloves of garlic, peeled and whole. Put in more if you love garlic.
1 large tomato, or 2 medium tomatoes, thickly sliced
1 red or green bell pepper, thickly sliced
4 medium potatoes, thickly sliced
4 carrots, quartered vertically
1/2 tsp. Hawaij spice, if you have it. If not, then 1/4 tsp. turmeric powder and 1/4 tsp. powdered cumin
1 Tblsp. sweet or hot paprika, according to your taste
salt and pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
Use a wide, shallow pot, if possible. This is important because the pot liquid is less likely to dry out.
If you’re using frozen fish, thaw it out and put it to soak in cold water to cover; squeeze half a lemon into the water. Fresh fish doesn’t need the lemon water treatment. Let the fish soak for 10 minutes, then rinse it.
Slice the fish into pieces about three fingers wide. Put the slices aside.
Place the cilantro or parsley on the bottom of the pot. Place the vegetables on top of the greens and set the pieces of fish on top of the vegetables.
Sprinkle vegetable and fish with the dry spices.
Pour the olive oil over the whole thing. Add no water nor any other liquid. The ingredients will release their juices and form a thin, but rich sauce.
Cover the pot and set it over a medium flame. Check it after 20 minutes, making sure that it’s not drying out. When the vegetables are cooked through and the liquid has cooked down to a thin sauce, it’s ready: it should take about 30 minutes total.
Serve it hot, with plenty of bread to sop up the delicious sauce.