Food: Quick fish tagine (with secret veg sauce)

 
Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce
Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce

When I first cooked this Moroccan fish tagine* I was very dubious as to whether the boys would eat it - but they loved it. They both love fish fingers - so with a bit of gentle coercion and discussion about it being the same fish that's inside a fish finger and they tried it, and then they were hooked. It might be because of the sauce which is sweetened by the apricots and cinnamon, or perhaps the fresh after taste that all the coriander and mint give it - but it was a winner and we all loved it.

Best of all, unlike a meat tagine, it doesn't take long to cook - about 30 minutes, plus marinating time - but to be honest if you were really pressed for time I don't think it would matter too much to shove the fish straight in. It's a perfect mid-week family meal, but fancy enough for a dinner party at the weekend if your social life is better than mine.  And of course it's full of vegetables from the secret veg sauce. But you could add extras in the form of finely diced carrots or courgette if you like.

*Please note I have never been to Morocco, or anywhere near it in fact - this recipe is adapted from one by Jamie Oliver. I don't know if he's ever been to Morocco either. But I don't think it matters - it tastes really good.

Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce
Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce

To make this tagine you will need:

For the chermoula paste A bunch of fresh coriander A bunch of fresh mint 2 cloves garlic 2 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp ground ginger 1 tsp ground coriander Juice of 1 lemon

For the tagine 400-500g cod fillet (or other firm white fish) 2 red onions 3 cloves garlic 1 red chilli (optional) 100g ready to eat apricots 400g portion of secret veg sauce 1 cinnamon stick 1 tbsp runny honey 300ml vegetable stock (I used Swiss Marigold Boulion) Olive oil Salt and pepper

To serve Flat breads Rice Mint yogurt

Serves:  A family of four - or four adults with flat breads and rice

Method:

Make the chermoula paste by blitzing up the coriander and the picked mint leaves (keep a small bunch to the side), with the garlic, spices and lemon juice in a food processor. Add 2 tbsp olive oil to make a smooth paste. Add a splash of water to loosen it if you need too. Set aside.

Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce
Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce

Cut your fish into large chunks and rub over with some of the chermoula paste, cover and refrigerate until you're ready to cook it. You can do this in the morning and leave it to marinate all day, or just while you cook the sauce.

Finely slice your onions and garlic, then taste the chilli (if using) and chop up a considered amount - you don't want it to be too spicy for your children, so I'd definitely leave out the seeds. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large heavy based pan with a lid. Throw in the onion, garlic and chilli and cook for five minutes until softened slightly.

Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce
Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce

Chop your apricots into small pieces and add to the pan with the cinnamon stick, remaining chermoula paste and honey. Cook for a few minutes over a medium heat to let the flavours combine.

Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce
Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce

Add the secret veg sauce and 300ml vegetable stock. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes. You can now leave this to sit, off the heat, until you're ready to eat.

Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce
Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce

10 minutes before you want to eat heat the sauce through then place the fish on top of the sauce, tuck it down gently and then pop the lid on the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Carefully stir the sauce to ensure you don't break up the fish.

Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce
Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce

Serve with rice, flat breads and fresh minted yogurt. I drizzle my flat breads with olive oil and then wrap the stack in some scrunched up baking paper that I run under the tap to make damp. Bake at 180c for 10- minutes and they'll be crisp but chewy at the same time.

Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce
Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce
Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce
Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce

For the mint yogurt, chop up a small bunch of mint and then stir into some natural yogurt.

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Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce
Quick fish tagine with secret veg sauce

Quick fish tagine

Serves four

Cooking time 30 minutes - plus marinading

For the chermoula paste A bunch of fresh coriander A bunch of fresh mint 2 cloves garlic 2 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp ground ginger 1 tsp ground coriander Juice of 1 lemon

For the tagine 400-500g cod fillet (or other firm white fish) 2 red onions 3 cloves garlic 1 red chilli (optional) 100g ready to eat apricots 400g portion of secret veg sauce 1 cinnamon stick 1 tbsp runny honey 300ml vegetable stock (I used Swiss Marigold Boulion) Olive oil Salt and pepper

To serve Flat breads Rice Mint yogurt

Method:

Make the chermoula paste by blitzing up the coriander and the picked mint leaves (keep a small bunch to the side), with the garlic, spices and lemon juice in a food processor. Add 2 tbsp olive oil to make a smooth paste. Add a splash of water to loosen it if you need too. Set aside.

Cut your fish into large chunks and rub over with some of the chermoula paste, cover and refrigerate until you're ready to cook it. You can do this in the morning and leave it to marinate all day, or just while you cook the sauce.

Finely slice your onions and garlic, then taste the chilli (if using) and chop up a considered amount - you don't want it to be too spicy for your children, so I'd definitely leave out the seeds. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large heavy based pan with a lid. Throw in the onion, garlic and chilli and cook for five minutes until softened slightly.

Chop your apricots into small pieces and add to the pan with the cinnamon stick, remaining chermoula paste and honey. Cook for a few minutes over a medium heat to let the flavours combine.

Add the secret veg sauce and 300ml vegetable stock. Turn the heat down and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes. You can now leave this to sit, off the heat, until you're ready to eat.

10 minutes before you want to eat heat the sauce through, then place the fish on top of the sauce, tuck it down gently and then pop the lid on the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Carefully stir the sauce to ensure you don't break up the fish.

Serve with rice, flat breads and fresh minted yogurt. I drizzle my flat breads with olive oil and then wrap the stack in some scrunched up baking paper that I run under the tap to make damp. Bake at 180c for 10 minutes and they'll be crisp but chewy at the same time.

For the mint yogurt, chop up a small bunch of mint and then stir into some natural yogurt.