Moroccan Chermoula Sauce Over
Grilled Halibut with CousCous

April 8, 2010

Chermoula - Parsley, cilantro, tomatoes, lemon zest, seasonings all in a food processor

Well, I didn’t get a spot on the 3rd season of the Food Network’s Grill It With Bobby Flaybut no worries because I still have my recipe for chermoula marinated grilled fish with a savory, yet fruity couscous to share with you. I made some tweaks to my Moroccan chermoula sauce and used it this time to marinade halibut instead of mahi mahi, and I like the dish even better now.

Since I made the first version of this fragrant and earthy sauce used widely in Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian cooking, I attended a cooking demo with Moroccan native, Chef Samir Labriny of Moroccan Cuisine Academy. At the demo I learned even more about Moroccan cooking, including more about chermoula sauce.

Image 1: Ingredients for chermoula sauce - parsley, cilantro, green onions, lemon, tomatoes; Image 2: Quartered tomatoes and halved lemon on a cutting board

Some chermoula sauces are more herb-based (parsley or cilantro) as mine is and some are more tomato-based. In my original chermoula recipe I didn’t include tomatoes, but I did in this most recent version. The tomatoes add a nice balance to the flavor, cutting down on some of the grassiness of the parsley and cilantro.

At the cooking demo I also learned about making couscous using any regular couscous rather than a quick-cooking variety that I normally use. I basically think using either is fine, but the boxed quick-cooking variety sometimes tastes a little like the cardboard box it comes in and didn’t seem to cook as fluffy as the brand I used this time. So, from now on, I think I’ll use Chef Labriny’s approach for couscous, which is to place the semolina pasta-like granules in a large bowl and cover the couscous with boiling water or broth, cover the bowl and allow it to sit for about 30 – 40 minutes before tossing in any remaining ingredients. It works perfectly.

Plate of couscous (golden raisins and apricots) with chermoula marinated halibut and sliced tomatoes

As for the type of fish I used in this dish, both the mahi mahi (what I used in my Food Network audition video) and Alaskan halibut are good grilling choices. They’re meaty, but not overly so, and they have a mild flavor that allows the chermoula sauce to be featured. Also, this time I grilled the fish using my new Staub cast iron grill pan (love it!) rather than an outdoor grill. The fish seemed to take a little longer on my grill pan, but it still worked fine and almost just as well as the outdoor gas grill.

Image 1: Raw halibut cuts with chermoula sauce on one and a dab of sauce on the other; Image 2: Chermoula marinated halibut (two piece) on a cast iron grill pan

Overall, I was very pleased with this meal, and it really didn’t take that long to make, so it’s a good week night choice. You can also make chermoula sauce in advance and keep it refrigerated for several days to have it ready to use. The sauce works well for seasoning chicken or vegetables in addition to fish, so try it out and enjoy!

Moroccan Chermoula Sauce Over Grilled Fish
Serves 4 – 6

Six 4 – 6 oz. pieces of U.S. mahi-mahi fillets (about 3” in width, 4” in length), skin on (Halibut can be used as well)
1 cup of chermoula sauce
Vegetable oil for drizzling/brushing
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

While heating a gas grill on medium heat, rinse and pat dry the fish fillets, then place them on a baking sheet for holding. Brush the skin side of each fillet with a little oil. This will help prevent the fish from sticking to the grill. Then with skin side down on the baking sheet, sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper.

Using a spatula, place 1 – 2 tablespoons of the chermoula sauce on each fillet and thickly spread the sauce over the fish. Lightly cover the sheet of fish with plastic wrap and place sheet in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, but up to two hours.

After marinating the fish, remove it from the refrigerator and place on the heated grill with skin side down. (Be sure to oil the grill grate with a paper towel saturated with vegetable oil to prevent sticking.) Note: If using a stove top grill pan, heat the pan on medium to medium-high before adding fish.

Grill fish directly over medium heat. If your grill tends to be cooler on one side than the other, use the cooler side. After about 15 minutes, carefully flip the fillets and grill on the other side for an additional five minutes. Fish should have light browning and flake easily with a fork when done. Remove fillets from grill and serve over couscous.

Chermoula Sauce
Makes about 1 cup of marinade

2 cups of roughly chopped cilantro
1-1/2 cups of roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 green onion (scallion) sliced, using both green and white parts
4 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 medium sized, ripe tomatoes – peeled and seeded
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Juice of a half lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In the small bowl (4-cup) of a food processor, add all of the ingredients except for the olive oil. Process the ingredients as you slowly add in the olive oil through the oil drain (top) of the food processor until the marinade comes together to form a thick, pasty sauce. Add in the olive oil a little at a time. You may not need all of it. Sauce should be thick, not liquid-like. Taste the sauce for flavor and add additional salt or pepper if needed. Transfer sauce to a small bowl, cover and set aside until ready to use.

Couscous with Golden Raisins and Dried Apricots
Serves 4

1 cup couscous
2 cups water or chicken broth
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 plump garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup diced dried apricots
1/4 cup golden raisins or dried currants
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt

Place couscous in a large glass or stainless steel bowl. Add the water or broth to a medium sauce pan along with the minced garlic and dried fruit and bring to a boil. Add the boiling water or broth with the garlic, raisins and apricots to the bowl of couscous. Use just enough of the liquid to just cover the couscous. This may be a little less than 2 cups.

Cover the bowl immediately with plastic wrap and set aside. After 30 – 40 minutes, uncover couscous and add parsley, olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Stir and fluff couscous gently to mix in ingredients, and serve with chermoula marinated fish.

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Filed Under Grains, Rice & Pasta, Seafood | 5 Comments Print This Post


5 Responses to “Moroccan Chermoula Sauce Over
Grilled Halibut with CousCous”

  1. Yum Yucky on April 8th, 2010 2:44 pm

    Shall we filet the Bobby Flay for not picking your awesomeness. Umm, well, maybe not. I’ve never had moroccan, but now I’m encouraged to try it!

  2. Andrea @ Fork Fingers Chopsticks on April 12th, 2010 3:59 pm

    I love the flavor of Morocco. I have all the ingredients to make this sauce with garden fresh herbs (my backyard garden is bursting with new growth from cool weather herbs). Thanks for sharing the chermoula sauce.

  3. Tesia on April 12th, 2010 9:22 pm

    Thanks for the comments! I hope you enjoy the recipes.

  4. The Duo Dishes on April 22nd, 2010 8:51 pm

    Love Moroccan. Glad you could share your recipe. This sounds like a great grill season dish. Mr. Flay missed out!

  5. lucio GOMIERO on December 24th, 2010 2:41 pm

    Chermoula marinated fish is great and I recommend using Grouper when available (it is more authentic Moroccan). What I can’t believe is cooking couscous the way you describe. Don’t you have a couscoussiere??????

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