Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Spicy Moroccan Chermoula

Chermoula is a North African marinade, commonly used to flavour fish in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. There seems to be loads of regional variants - I didn't find two recipes the same when I was looking for ideas! The main basis always seemed to be lemon juice, cilantro and garlic - then I took my favourites from the other to make my own Brighton variation... hot, spicy and very garlicky! Feel free to adjust quantities to taste. I also did this using both my mortar and pestle (for the dry) and mini-blender (for the wet) - but it could be done by hand or in a blender - whatever you would usually use to make pesto I guess!

It can be used as a marinade for fish, veg or meat. I also used it as a basis for a sauce (recipe to follow!), and heard the some people use it as a seasoning! If you follow my quantities, be careful though - there is a fair whack of garlic there, and if it isn't cooked out you'll keep more than the vampires away...

Spicy Moroccan Chermoula

  • 1 large bunch cilantro
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 red chillies
  • 1 lemon
  • a couple of glugs of olive oil
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 tsp paprika
In a pan, fry off the coriander and cumin seeds until you can smell the aromas being released. Transfer to the mortar and pestle along with the salt, and grind to a fine powder.

A couple of the recipes I saw suggested picking the leaves from the cilantro, and discarding the stalks, but the Scot in me baulked at this waste - they have so much taste! Instead, I picked most of the leaves from the bunch, then blitzed the stalks to a fine purée in my mini-blender (Add a few drops of olive oil to loosen if required.)

Transfer the blitzed stalks to a small mixing bowl, along with the spices.

Now, pulse the chillies and garlic to a fairly fine purée and add to the mix. I left the seeds in because I wanted it HOT. But feel free to take them out and save your palette!

Grate the zest from the lemon, and add that, along with the juice from the lemon to the bowl.

I then finely chopped the cilantro leaves by hand. I wanted to keep some roughness to the marinade - and it only took a minute - but feel free to do this in the blender to save time :)

Now mix all the ingredients together, adding olive oil until you get the consistency you want. Again - this seems to change depending on recipe - but I decided to make mine to pesto consistency.

Very carefully, taste and adjust seasoning as required.

I read that this should keep for 3 days in the fridge - but that it is also freezable. If I'd had enough left after 2 days I would have tried to freeze it in ice-cube trays for easy defrost!

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Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Woo Hoo..that is packed with flavour:D

grace said...

oh, how i love cilantro. this sauce sounds absolutely fabulous. forget marinade--i'd eat it with a spoon! :)

Mike of Mike's Table said...

That sounds like a very tasty marinade! And this goes right along with my current obsession with all foods Moroccan--I'll have to try this out!

sunita said...

Kittie, thanks for offering to help with the hosting of 'Think spice'...would you like to host it for the month of September 2008?Please let me know as soon as you can.


Deborah said...

Oh Yum! I have a roast that I'm going to slow cook, and I've been looking for a way to throw a bunch of flavor at it. I want something more than your average roast-and-potatoes this week. I wonder how I could use this with it. Marinade? Cook them together? Use this as relish-type thing? Am I ruining something here? I love spicy beef dishes, so I'm going to have to think about this...

Chris said...

It seems everyone has their own chermoula recipe, but this one is great. I used something similar recently with a lamb shoulder and it turned out excellent.

For the other commenter, even though its been over a year, sure, marinate some roast potatoes - they turn out great if you marinate them in chermoula. Just up the lemon juice a bit and marinate them overnight in the fridge.

xl pharmacy said...

This is a fantastic recipe, the spicy flavor is just so good, it brings the best of the dish.