Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Charmoula is the salsa verde of Morocco. Or you could think of it as the pesto of Morocco. Or the chimichurri of Morocco. Ok, I’ll stop now.

The recipe for this bright, bold sauce or paste vary by chef, home cook and region of North Africa. If you do a search on “charmoula” or “chermoula,” you will see what I mean. The recipe I use below is from Bon Appetit.

This recipe makes enough charmoula to go on the fish and into the recipe for Moroccan-Style Chickpea Salad. If you only want to make the fish, use half the ingredients—the second set of ingredients below.

If you don’t have striped bass (aka rockfish in the Mid-Atlantic), you can substitute catfish, grouper, haddock, halibut, monkfish, pollock, Pacific rockfish, snapper, sturgeon, swordfish or tilefish.

Moroccan-Style Striped Bass with Charmoula

Moroccan-Style Striped Bass with Charmoula | Grabbing the Gusto

Moroccan-Style Striped Bass with Charmoula

You’ll need a spice or coffee grinder (or mortar and pestle), an immersion or regular blender (or small food processor), sealable container for marinating, and large oven-safe nonstick skillet.

You can save time by starting the prep on the fish. It needs at least one hour of marinating.

The first set of ingredients below makes enough charmoula for the fish and the Moroccan-Style Chickpea Salad recipe, about 3/4 cup. If you only wish to make enough charmoula for the fish, skip down to the second set of ingredients.

Yield about 3/4 cup.

  • 1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole white peppercorns or 3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 (6- to 7-ounce) striped bass fillets

Yield about 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons.

  • 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole white peppercorns or 3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Combine fennel seeds, rosemary, cumin seeds, red pepper and white pepper in a spice or coffee grinder and process until finely ground. Or, use a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a blender (or small food processor).

Add parsley, cilantro, mint, lemon juice and garlic to the blender. With blender running, gradually add the oil and blend until a coarse puree forms. Season to taste with salt.

Note: Charmoula can be made 1 day ahead. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate. Let it stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.

Place fish on plate. Pour 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons charmoula over fish—that’s half the first set of ingredients or the entire second set of ingredients—turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate the fish at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish with marinade still clinging to surface and cook until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer skillet to oven and roast fish until it’s cooked through, about 8 minutes.

Serve fish alongside or on top of Moroccan-Style Chickpea Salad.

Original recipe: Marinated Sturgeon with Moroccan Chickpea Salad, Bon Appetit

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