Moroccan Fish Tagine with Ginger & Saffron

by Lynne on July 2, 2015

Post image for Moroccan Fish Tagine with Ginger & Saffron


What is a tagine, anyway? Well, it’s a Moroccan cooking pot, the ones you’ve seen with the conical tops, and it’s also the dish that is cooked in said pot. However, you can also cook a tagine in a covered casserole, a Dutch oven or a crockpot. It’s a long braise over low heat, with the ingredients on the bottom cooked in liquid, and those on top cooked with steam.

What I love most about Moroccan tagines are the spices that are used to flavor the dish. You may have heard about Ras El Hanout, a Moroccan spice blend made up of allspice, nutmeg, black pepper, mace, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, turmeric, cumin, cloves, coriander, paprika, fenugreek and cayenne. Many of those I use in my baking, but in Moroccan cuisine, in they go with the meat, veggies and dried fruit. Oh, and the preserved lemons, saffron and olives.

Ooooh….the spices. You have to try this recipe. I made it in a casserole dish and covered it with aluminum foil, which worked perfectly. But I loved the finished dish so much that I went to Sur la Table and bought a real Moroccan tagine, conical hat and all. I am looking forward to making some chicken, lamb and beef stews, which I will be bringing to you in the near future.

Moroccan Fish Tagine with Ginger & Saffron 2

First the fish fillets are marinated in a mixture of olive oil, paprika, saffron, ground ginger, lemon juice and minced cilantro and parsley. The paprika and saffron color the marinade a deep rich red.

Moroccan Fish Tagine with Ginger & Saffron 3

The casserole is layered with carrots, sliced onions and tomato sauce, and baked until the carrots are soft. Next the fish fillets are laid on the vegetables, the marinade is poured over, olives are strewn about, and the fish topped with preserved lemon and the lemon slices. I used one slice per fillet, but I recommend two slices. They’re such a perfect addition to the whole flavor profile. Then the casserole is popped back in the oven to cook the fish and it is finished with a flurry of fresh cilantro. Oh man! Those Morrocan flavors are remarkable! So beautiful. Like a work of art.

Moroccan Fish Tagine with Ginger & Saffron 5

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Moroccan Fish Tagine with Ginger & Saffron

Serves 4

¼ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
½ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
8 threads Spanish saffron, crushed
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 lemon

4 six-ounce boned fish fillets (I used tilapia)

4 large tomatoes
2 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

2 carrots, peeled, sliced diagonally ¼-inch
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon preserved lemon pulp
12 green and/or black olives, pitted

Fresh parsley and/or cilantro leaves for garnish

1. In a large bowl, mix parsley, cilantro, olive oil, paprika, saffron and ginger. Add juice of half of lemon. Coat fish fillets with mixture, cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. Cut other lemon half into 8 very thin slices.

2. Bring large sauce pan of water to boil. Drop tomatoes one at a time into boiling water and count to 10. Remove with slotted spoon and cool to room temperature. Peel off skin.

3. Place strainer over medium bowl. Cut tomatoes in quarters and remove seeds over strainer. With large spoon, rub seeds to extract juice into bowl. Coarsely chop tomatoes.

4. In a large sauce pan, combine tomatoes, their juice, garlic and cumin. Cook over medium heat, mashing and stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

6. Place carrot slices in single layer on bottom of enameled casserole or Dutch oven. Cover with onion slices. Spoon tomato sauce over onions. Cover casserole tightly with aluminum foil, or cover of Dutch oven. Bake in middle of oven for about 30 minutes, until carrots are soft.

7. Remove from oven and place fish fillets on top of vegetables. Reserve marinade. Spread a little preserved lemon pulp on each fillet and top each one with 2 slices of lemon.

8. Pour reserved marinade around fillets and surround with olives. Return casserole to oven and bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, until fish is flaky.

9. Spoon some of sauce over fish. Garnish with parsley or cilantro leaves. Serve over couscous if desired.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy | She Paused 4 Thought July 5, 2015 at 2:32 pm

I don’t own a tagine dish, but makes me want to go buy one. I guess I will try it in the crock pot first. Looks amazing.

Lentil Breakdown July 7, 2015 at 3:29 pm

OMG! This is so gorgeous it’s unbelievable! Of course you beat me to buying a tagine even though I went to Morocco! I looked at Sur La Table and almost bought one but knew that I’d use it once and put it in the back of the cupboard. I have a feeling you’ll be getting a lot more use out of yours. 🙂

Judith de Haan October 18, 2016 at 12:35 pm

Lovely dish. I’ve made it twice. It’s a keeper. However, I fiddled a little with the recipe and added 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon to the spice mix and the guts of a steamed pumpkin (about a cup of pureed pumpkin) to the tomato mix. It bumped up the flavour ten fold. Yum.

Barbara Pepper February 23, 2017 at 10:37 am

Halved the recipe for me and my husband, and it worked just fine. Delicious, with a very delicate lemon flavour.

Krystal September 19, 2017 at 12:15 pm

What a beautiful recipe. I just made mine yesterday and enjoyed the experience. First time making a Moroccan dish. Would you happen to have nutritional/calorie details?

Sara Rahimi December 14, 2020 at 4:05 pm

We loved this recipe. I substitute the carrot with butternut squash and made it with salmon. Served with brown rice. It’s very delicious dish.

Dawn January 22, 2021 at 12:08 pm

This looks amazing! Is there a substitute for preserved lemon?

Lynne January 22, 2021 at 5:56 pm

Hi Dawn ~ Thanks for visiting. You can skip the preserved lemon without affecting the overall taste of the dish. However, if you want to add that little flavor note, you can make your own quick preserved lemon. Here is a link to a recipe:

Sam February 10, 2021 at 8:30 am

This looks wonderful; what kind of olives did you use?

Lynne February 10, 2021 at 10:53 am

Hi Sam ~ Thanks for stopping by. I used kalamata for the black olives. You can use any green olives, but I prefer those that are garlicky. I hope you try this recipe and let me know what you think. Lynne xo

Nicola July 10, 2021 at 6:40 am

Can you use fresh ginger instead of ground as my other half dose not like ground ginger and I really would like to make this dish

Linda July 25, 2021 at 3:12 pm

This was really yummy. i think that next time I would use half the olive oil for the marinade. I was only serving two people so it felt a little oil heavy. Just a warning, it is a fair amount of work to make. Next time I might make the marinade and tomato sauce the day before. I used a quick method for the preserved lemons and I used the rind in the recipe too.

Lynne July 25, 2021 at 3:19 pm

Hi Nicola ~ Yes, I think you can use fresh ginger, but I would use only a small amount, maybe 1/2 teaspoon microplaned. Fresh ginger can be sharp tasting and you don’t want to overpower the flavor. I would love to know how this turns out. Lynne xo

Obi August 13, 2021 at 12:59 am

Made this with chicken instead of fish as I did not have fish with me at the moment. It was LOVELY!
I plan to try this out with fish next week. Thank you so much for the recipe.

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