Chermoula-roasted halibut

13 October 2010

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.
Two fish, three fish, blue fish, green fish.
Green fish?
Oh me! Oh my!
One of them is not like the others,
But don’t ask us why.
Go ask your mothers.

I love Dr. Seuss, even if I can’t do parody. Sigh.

Chermoula-roasted halibut

Chermoula is a North African condiment used primarily as a marinade for fish and vegetables. The suggested preparation below (which is fairly typical–there are tons of recipes out there) makes about 1 cup of the stuff, which can be stored in the refrigerator for at least a few days, longer if you put a thin film of oil on top to help preserve it. I like it on the requisite roasted fish and vegetables, of course, but also tossed into couscous, on toast with a bit of fresh cheese, thinned out with a bit more oil, tossed with salad greens, and and and. I could go on forever. It’s very good.

For the fish:  halibut or some other meaty white fish, .25-.3 lbs/100-150 g per person

For the chermoula: 1 bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems only  |  ½ bunch parsley, leaves and tender stems only  |  2 tsp cumin seeds  |  1 tsp paprika  |  2 cloves garlic  |  ½ cup olive oil  |  juice from ½ lemon  |  salt + pepper

Make the chermoula:  Toast cumin seeds in a small frying pan over medium low heat for a couple of minutes, until they are fragrant.  If you don’t have a mortar + pestle or coffee grinder for grinding them yourself, don’t worry, but do use whole seeds in lieu of the pre-ground stuff.  Buzz everything together in a food processor.  You may not need all the olive oil and/or lemon juice.  Just add until you are happy with the consistency and flavor.

Heat oven to 450 F/230 C.  Spoon some of the charmoula over the fish and toss with your hands.  Let marinate for no longer than 20 minutes, or else the acid in the vinegar and lemon will ‘cook’ the fish and you will have ceviche, which is not the desired result.

When the oven is hot, place fish skin side down on a roasting pan and roast until done.  10 minutes per inch of thickness is a good rule of thumb.  In the case of the hefty filet pictured (about .3 lbs), this took about 14 minutes.

Serve with additional chermoula on the side, some couscous, and perhaps a carrot salad.