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Traditional Moroccan Fish

August 4, 2022 | by Shira and Rabbi Chef David Trakhtman

A dish steeped in history.

The following fish recipe is a staple on any Moroccan table or served by anyone who wants to treat guests to good spicy food. A delicacy that is as rich as the history of the people who created it. Read more about the Jewish history of Morocco here.

Various firm white fish can be used for this recipe. In Australia, one might use barramundi, Murray perch, or blue eye. In America, sea bass is often used. Salmon is perhaps the most common fish for this dish used worldwide, as it is easily available, versatile, and has the right amount of fat to balance the acidity of the sauce. You can use filets, but it tastes better with the bone. The secret here is the rich tomato-based sauce along with slowly braised fish, enhanced with sweet paprika, whole chili, and garlic.

Did you know that the Jewish philosopher Maimonides recommended eating up until being 2/3rds full? He would never have recommended that you clean your plate like your grandmother did.  Get more Jewish food thoughts here. 

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Serves 4


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled into cloves
  • 2 tablespoons Jamie Geller Harissa
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 whole chili (optional)
  • Few teaspoons of sugar (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh coriander (cilantro) for garnish
  • 4 salmon cutlets (cut across with the bone in)


  1. Heat olive oil in saute pan and lightly saute whole garlic cloves for a minute or so. Add harissa, paprika, and cumin, stir well. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste and water. Mix everything together. Add whole chili, sugar, salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Bring to a boil and cook gently uncovered until the sauce has reduced by half. Stir from time to time to prevent the tomatoes from burning and the mixture from splattering. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
  3. Place fish cutlets in the sauce, cover the saute pan (or transfer into a tray) tightly and put the whole thing in the oven at 180°C (350°F) for the first 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 150°C (280°F) and let cook for another half hour.
  4. Open the lid to check the consistency and taste of the sauce. Add more salt if needed and some sugar if it is too sour for your palate. If too runny, let it cook uncovered at 180°C in the oven for 10-15 minutes longer.
  5. When ready, remove the fish from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
  6. Serve fish on a plate with the sauce spooned over it including the whole garlic cloves. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves (whole or finely chopped).

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