Authentic Moroccan style fish simmered in spices, fresh herbs, and red veggies. Warning- make extra because there will never be enough!
We live on a small hilltop village- called a “Moshav” in Hebrew– in the beautiful Ella Valley. Before this we lived a short ride from Jerusalem in a tiny, just married place, with a view of the mountains and a hundred steps leading down from the main street. When me and hubby returned from our honeymoon and I got pregnant, we immediately knew we needed to move houses- there was no way I was trekking down those steps carrying a baby in my tummy.
My mom was the one who discovered this moshav called Neve Michael. She showed me some pictures of a house that was a little bit “out there”- but we thought- maybe that would be nice!-and I decided to take a bus to go see it. I was probably 8 months pregnant by then, and when I finally arrived at the place, night had fallen, and I was hungry, cranky, and exhausted. The landowners showed me around the house and I said yes! I tried to imagine us living there(I hadn’t even seen the view!), but all I could visualize in my head was a fluffy pillow and a huge roast chicken.
The tour was finished and my husband was still a ways away- on the road to pick me up. Smiling politely at the sweet older landowners, I frantically tried to think up how I would keep up another hour of conversation and not fall asleep on them. My thoughts were going to the “Mr. Bean and matchsticks holding open the eyelids”. Somehow, Esther sensed my dilemma and took out a pot of fresh chicken soup from the fridge. Without a word, she went to a side room and arranged a bed for me. I was so surprised I was almost tempted to politely decline- but we both knew I was already halfway gone.
I still remember the taste of that savory chicken broth, and the single bed I fell asleep in with a full tummy in a strangers house.
As you can imagine, Esther is now my landlady, and I’ve gotten to try quite the array of her delicious moroccan dishes- like these Savory “Ktzitzot”. This fish is our favorite. She used to bring it down to our house on Friday nights, when her and her husband had already finished their meal and we were just beginning “Shalom Aleichem”.
It didn’t take long for us to develop a healthy obsession, and I began visiting Esther in her kitchen whenever I smelled something cooking- taking pictures of the spices she uses stored in little containers in her fridge, and asking questions a hundred times over.
This wonderful fish is cooked with a whole head of garlic, red bell peppers, spicy hot chillies, and aromatic spices. The Moroccan paprika- paprika in oil- is what gives the fish its beautiful red color. The perfect accompaniment to your Shabbos table, or served hot with fresh bread as a weeknight dinner, this dish is soon to become a family favorite.
Let’s see how it’s done shall we?
Spicy Moroccan Fish
- 4 tilapia fillets
- 1 lemon
- whole head of garlic peeled
- 1 1/2 red bell pepper
- 3 hot red peppers
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp Moroccan paprika-paprika in oil
- 1/2 tsp chicken soup mix
- 1/2 cup Canola oil
- 1/2 cup Parsley
- 1/2 cup Cilantro
- drizzle of olive oil
- Place fish fillets in a bowl in the sink. Squeeze over the juice of one lemon and a little water. Let soak while you prepare veggies.
- Place in a wide rimmed pan the whole head of peeled garlic cloves. Thinly slice the red pepper into strips, and add the hot pepper.
- Add your spices to the pan. Turmeric, salt, Moroccan paprika, soup mix, and a half cup oil. Roughly cut in the cilantro and parsley.
- Rinse fish in water and place in pan. Mix around so the fish and veggies are covered in spices. Arrange fish on top of peppers, with the skin side up.
- Place pan over medium flame and bring to a boil. Check every fifteen minutes and take pan and move in a circular motion, to evenly distribute the oil and make sure the bottom layer isn't burning. Drizzle with olive oil. Cooking times vary here, but we're looking at 30-45 minutes. You want the liquid to thicken a bit. When you remove the lid and see that the flesh of the fish is cooked through, give it a little taste. HEAVEN.
- Carefully arrange fish fillets- I usually cut them in half or in fourths, depending on how many people I'm serving, on a platter. Around the fish, arrange the peppers and hot peppers and spoon over sauce. Alternatively, you can bring the whole pan to the table and let everyone serve themselves.