Fish Stew with Fennel and Harissa
Fish stew/tagine is a Northern Moroccan delicacy made in coastal cities like Tangiers, Tetouan and Larache where fish is abundant and affordable. But it is also made in different parts of the country although less frequently in more interior regions which specialize more in lamb, beef and chicken. Chermoula may be the most known preparation for a fish tagine but a simple preparation, like this one, with tomato sauce and vegetables is commonly made as well. My mother often added potatoes and carrots to this dish. I have followed her steps many times but this time I chose fennel.
Fennel brings a unique flavor to this fish stew infusing it with an anise aroma that truly boosts the tomato sauce. The harissa heightens the taste a few notches making this dish particularly good for cold weather.
Fish Stew with Fennel Recipe
2 large tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes or harissa
1 pound mahi mahi (or other fish), cut into 4 pieces
1 handful assorted shellfish (optional)
1 small fennel bulb, cut into 2-inch strips
1 ½ cups water
Grate the tomatoes into a large pot and place it on medium heat. Add the olive oil and garlic. Cook for a few minutes then stir in the tomato paste. Season with salt, pepper and pepper flakes. Add the fish, shellfish, fennel and water. Cover with a lid and cook until the fennel is tender and the fish is cooked, 20-25 minutes.
Serve immediately with bread to dunk into the sauce.