What is a tagine? According to the Penguin Companion to Food, it is a stew “fundamental to cookery in Morocco,” as well as its cooking vessel, which is “earthenware, with a distinctive pointed cover.” Some tagine vessels are used for cooking, while others are used only for serving.
The tagines above are made by Emile Henry. I also like this version by Le Creuset:
Though, of course, the classic, earthenware tagines below have a rustic appeal. Oh, to go tagine shopping in Morocco!
I still remember the first time I ever ate a tagine. It was the summer of 1987 (maybe 1988) and my mom, dad and I were on vacation in Provence. I was twelve or thirteen and the tagine was made of chicken and preserved lemon, eaten at the home of some French friends of my parents. We scooped up the savory, tart, citrusy sauce with couscous and the whole experience was exotic and delicious. (We still make the chicken and preserved lemon tagine — and even cure our own lemons — but that’s a recipe for another post.)
This past weekend, I made the fish tagine with potatoes, tomatoes and olives from Moro. Verdict: outstanding. The dish was fresh, simple, tasty, healthy and exotic, harkening back to that first tagine I ate so many years ago. The key is a spice rub called charmoula, a blend of garlic, cumin, lemon juice, vinegar, paprika and cilantro. You rub this into the fish (I used hake), and layer the fish over a bed of new potatoes, roasted green peppers and cherry tomatoes, before gently steaming. (The recipe is here — scroll down halfway — though I doubled it.) Best of all, unlike so many Moro recipes, there are few special ingredients.