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Tuesday
Apr122011

Morocco Menu 1: Tagine Bil Hoot with a Raw Carrot Salad


We kicked off Morocco last night by cooking Tagine Bil Hoot (a tagine of fish) with a Raw Carrot Salad. 

The boys loved the name of the fish and spend many a silly minutes yelling Tagine Bil Hoot all around the kitchen.  I overheard Ryan (8) asking Ben (5) "Why is this Tagine funny?".  "Because it's a Hoot".  And his little brother, very obligingly, laughed out loudly.   

 

Tagine Bil Hoot (adapted from Cooking at the Kasbah)

The fish recipe is from a lovely Moroccan cookbook called Cooking at the Kasbah by Kitty Morse.  I loved pouring over her lovely photos. She talks about her father, who was stationed in Morocco with the British Royal Airforce, falling in love with the country and staying on there.  In 1963, he bought a house there and called it Dar Zitoun (House of the Olive). What is amazing about the house is that in the mid-1800s, the wealthy businessman who owned the home actually started a cooking school there to train young women in the culinary arts.  How strange that when writing the cookbook, she tested most of her recipes in the same kitchen that would have housed the culinary school!   


Serves 4

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika

8 threads saffron

1 tsp ground ginger

2 small lemon

4 fish filets

1 can diced tomatoes

3 garlic cloves

1 tsp ground cumin

1 onion

12 green olives

Note: the original recipe also calls for 1 tbsp preserved lemon pulp to be spread over the fish filets but since I didn't have these, I omitted them. 

  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Mix the chopped parsley, cilantro, olive oil, paprika, saffron and ginger. Add the juice of 1 small lemon to the parsley and cilantro mixture.
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper on the fish filets and then coat the fish filets with this mixture and refrigerate for 2 hours and turn occasionally
  • Cut the other lemon into thin slices and set aside
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven.  Add thinly slices onions and saute until soft and slightly golden.  Add the garlic and cook until you start to smell the yummy garlic 
  • Add a can of diced tomatoes and the ground cumin. Fill the empty tomato can with water and dump it in the mix.  Cook this until the sauce is nice and thick.
  • Take the pan off the heat, set the fish filets on top of the tomato and onion sauce.  Make sure you use any leftover marinade and just spread it over the fish. Then take the thin slices of lemon you cut up earlier and spread it over the filets of fish.
  • Sprinkle the olives all around the fish.  Note: I had to scrounge around for extra olives because I had eaten the 12 the recipe calls for.  
  • Put the pan in the oven and bake until the fish is nice and flaky.  In my convection oven it took about 15 minutes. 
  • Sprinkle with some fresh cilantro sprigs and voila -- ready to serve 

 

Moroccan Raw Salad (adapted from Olive Trees and Honey)

Given the fact that the Tagine was pretty adventurous for my boys (with so many new ingredients that I was introducing to them like olives, saffron, paprika), I stuck with a simple Raw Carrot Salad that I had bookmarked for ages.  This is from another fascinating cookbook that I have been meaning to buy called Olive Trees and Honey and is a compilation of vegetarian recipes from the Jewish diaspora.

Serves 4 (in our carrot lovin' house)

4 cups of carrots.  (I bought the pre-packaged shredded variety)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice + 2 tbsp orange juice

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

4 cloves garlic

1 tsp ground cumin + 1/4 tsp cinnamon

1tsp sweet paprika

A pinch of sugar

  • Empty the shredded carrots into a bowl
  • Empty all the other ingredients into the bowl and mix well and let it marinade in the refrigerator.  

I made this at around noon and so it had a good 6 hours to soak up flavors.  This is the key to this extremely simple recipe!

THE VERDICT:  *** (3 out of 5 stars)

Parents:  The fish was really moist and flaky.  You can really taste saffron in the dish and it is such a unique addition.  Perhaps add a bit more lemon the next time or perhaps invest in the preserved lemons the original recipe calls for. The olives add quite a bit of substance and salt to the dish.  We were craving some good crusty bread to scoop up the yummy bits of tomato, onions and garlic and so this is something to think about if we do this again. 

Kids: Ate all the fish but left a lot of their olives on the plate untouched.  Not the best fish they have eaten, they said.  They LOVED the carrot salad and asked if I could make it again, which is always a really good sign!

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