Fish Tagine with Celery

A savoury fish tagine baked with celery and charmoula until tender and flaky. Serve with soft, crusty Moroccan bread for a complete, delicious meal.

Serves 6 people

1 bass or beam, head and tail removed, scaled and cleaned
680 g (1 ½ lbs) celery
450 g (1 lb) red, ripe tomatoes peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 preserved lemon, diced
salt and pepper to taste

Score the fish at 3.75 (1 ½”) intervals. Toss gently with the charmoula to coat evenly and rub into the cavity. Set aside to let stand and absorb the spices for 45 minutes.

Separate the celery stalks and remove the leaves. Cut lengthwise down the middle and then crosswise into 5 cm (2”) pieces.

At the bottom of your baking dish, arrange the celery pieces in one layer (This becomes the bed for the fish and keeps it from sticking to the bottom). Arrange the fish slices on top and pour the charmoula over. Add the chopped tomatoes and the diced lemon and sprinkle over with the chopped garlic.

Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 35 minutes in a 200 C oven. Remove cover and spoon the sauce over the fish to moisten. Continue baking, uncovered, for a further 20 minutes – until the fish is cooked. Adjust seasoning and serve warm.