North African Jews are often blamed for the steep increase in the price of fish before holidays, because every family must have a nice grouper on their Rosh Hashana table. Grouper, the king of local saltwater fish, is indeed perfect for this easy to make hot fish stew, but other firm fleshed varieties will work just as well. Fresh halibut is especially good. This recipe is from "The Magic of Moroccan Cuisine" by Guy Peretz and Nissim Krispil, published (in Hebrew) by Al Hashulchan.
Ingredients (serves 6)
6 portion-sized steaks (with the bone) of grouper, halibut or other firm fleshed saltwater fish
1/2 cup olive oil
2 coarsely chopped sweet red peppers
2 hot red peppers halved and seeded
10 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup coriander (cilantro), coarsely chopped
1 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons Moroccan paprika (see below)
1 lemon, sliced for serving
Heat the oil in a large,wide pan and sauté the garlic and both kind of peppers for 2 minutes. Add herbs, paprika and salt and sauté for a couple more minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in 2 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning (once you add the fish it will be difficult to stir the sauce and play with flavors).
Carefully add the fish chunks (ideally in a single layer), cover and simmer gently for about 25 minutes until the fish is done and the sauce thickens. Serve with lemon wedges and enough bread to mop up the sauce.
Variation: The dish can also be prepared with boneless fillets. In this case the sauce should be cooked without the fish, and when ready (thick, spicy and delicious), fillets should added and cooked in the sauce for 8-10 minutes.
Morrocan Paprika – Usually darker and coarser than regular paprika, it is mixed after grinding with a little bit of oil. Certain spice venders also add a bit of hot cayenne pepper. If unavailable, use high quality Hungarian paprika.
Yarden Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Golan Heights Winery: Yarden Sauvignon Blanc is a great way to start your meal; it is a dry white wine, with a refreshing acidity and an elegant finish. It matches the spicy, zesty character of the fish, and will bring out the herbs refreshing taste.