Friday, 3 April 2015

Fish and seafood in Morocco

Having lived in different countries, I always found it difficult to find some types of fish I grew up eating. Fishing industry is one of the main sources of money for the country.

For any Moroccan, fresh fish is the deal. We don't buy frozen, we like to see the head of most of the fish we buy to define its freshness and we usually discard anything not caught the same day. 

We have plenty of calamari, whiting, sardines, sea bass, eel, sole, skate while tuna gets snatched by the Japanese in high sea. 

Some of the very common fish you find at the fishmongers stalls and which are heavily used for different recipes:

  • Bar or loup bar (Moroccans call it "le loup" or "Darii") and can measure anywhere from 20 to 70 cm, is also a favourite for fish tagines or stuffing. It's seems it's a type of bass when it's translated to English.
  • La lotte (Eng: monkfish) is another perfect fish for tagine and a favourite.
  • Congre (farkh or sennour in Moroccan) is conger in English, perfect for tagines again
  • Ombrine (Eng: umbrine) is used for stuffing as well as pageot (Eng: red sea bream)
  • Merlan (Mirna, mirla in Moroccan) or whiting in English, a -Moroccan favourite for fishballs or for frying.
  • Shark and espadon are commonly used from grilled fish kebabs.
  • Soles are just as good for cooking "en papillote" or frying.

Fishmonger in a local market

This webpage offers an idea of the commonly caught fish in Morocco. This is an example of the common fish in Morocco (from the Southern region only).

We have multiple ways of cooking fish: frying, grilling, stewing or baking.

Fresh oyster with lemon juice (freshly opened for me as we tend to snack on it on the go)

While the small fried or grilled fish is usually served as starter, a cooked tagine and baked tray of fish can have whole big fish with the head, filleted fish or fish balls. 

During family gatherings, we like to buy a big fish, stuff it and bake it or we cut it into big pieces and make tagine. 

Fresh shrimp, small sardines, soles, squids, whiting...etc, commonly found in Moroccan markets

Most of the fish tagines or baked tray have one of the chermoulas as main seasoning, but in some areas, a sweet element is introduced while chermoula is not used. Safi is a city which is famous with it's fish stuffed with interesting praline paste while Rabat and Fes use a specific type of fish which they cook with sultanas. Now some sultanas are acidic and others are sweet. So you want to find the right one for the job.

Basic fish recipes especially for grilling or cooking in "papillote" might just need cumin or salt and that's about it. The fish is so fresh that you just want to keep the taste of the sea intact.

Many small ports in Morocco have small joints who are only there to serve you a tomato and onion salad and offer to grill the fish you would have bought from the fishermen who just got out of the sea with loads of freshly caught fish. That's how fresh it can get!

Some of the upcoming posts will be all about fish. So locate a place where you can get fresh fish and let's get cooking.

But for now, I leave you with a list of some previously posted recipes of fish and seafood with different cooking options:














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