Members' Recipes Archive

October 2002
Autumn Fish Tagine
Kate Whiteman

Autumn Fish Tagine

By: Kate Whiteman

Serves: 4

I love autumn for its wonderful glowing colours, its rich, earthy scents and the range of squashes exotically garbed like fat little potentates. This aromatic Moroccan-inspired fish stew encapsulates the best of the season’s colours and flavours – vibrant red peppers, deep orange squash, and shiny green courgettes. My own favourite squash is butternut, but you can use whichever you like. For a spectacular dinner party or Halloween dish, substitute cubed pumpkin flesh for the squash and serve the tagine in the empty pumpkin shell.
It’s great to make this dish in an authentic tagine with a conical lid (the base should be at least 30 cm diameter, or the cooking juices will overflow), but if you don’t possess one, a heavy-based flameproof casserole will do just as well. Please don't be put off by this recipe's long list of ingredients: the method is very simple.


600 g firm, chunky fish fillets (cod, hake or monkfish), skinned
4 shallots or fat salad onions with a bit of the green stalk left on
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 butternut or acorn squash, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
Half a red and half a yellow or orange pepper, deseeded and cut into 2 cm squares
2 courgettes, cut into 1 x 2 cm batons
1 x 400 g tin of peeled cherry tomatoes
125 ml fish stock
50 g black olives
1 preserved lemon, roughly chopped
Handful of chopped coriander
Salt and pepper

Harissa (if you don’t want to make your own, buy a tube or jar)
2 large fresh red chillies, deseeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons sunflower or groundnut oil


1. To make the harissa, put all the ingredients in a food processor and whizz to a paste.

2. Put the fish in a wide bowl, add half the harissa and toss gently to coat the fish. Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours (or, better still, overnight).

3. Heat half the oil in the bottom of a large tagine or a flameproof casserole. Add the shallots or onions and fry gently for about 5 minutes until lightly browned. Take them out, put the garlic, cubed squash and peppers in the pan, stir in the leftover harissa, and fry gently for 10 minutes, until the squash is golden brown all over. Push the vegetables to the sides of the tagine, put the courgettes in the middle and fry for another 2 minutes.

4. Return the shallots or onions to the tagine, stir in the tomatoes and fish stock, and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down very low, put on the lid, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender.

5. Gently stir in the chunks of fish and the preserved lemon. Replace the lid and simmer for another 10 – 15 minutes, until the fish is just cooked through. Season to taste, scatter on the olives and chopped coriander, and serve straight from the tagine or casserole with a dish of lemony couscous or rice.

© Recipe copyright 2002 Kate Whiteman


Author: Kate Whiteman Email:

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