Josh Niland’s John Dory Tagine

Serves: 6

Wow, this is a just a brilliant tagine.

The heat is perfect. The unusual addition of thyme and fish sauce and anchovies.

The f-you preserved lemon yoghurt.

And the pine nuts toasted with salt and then sherry vinegar.

I mean it when I say, skip now to that part of the recipe and simply do the pine nuts as a snack. They are addictive.

(If they lose their crunch, refresh them in a hot oven for a minute or two.)

This was our first Josh Niland recipe from his book Take One Fish and I really don’t know why we delayed buying his books or cooking his stuff. We have every other cookbook in the world, and there is a reason he won James Beard Book of the year.

We didn’t source John Dory darnes because we didn’t have the time to get to the markets; and also because we’re not entirely ready for whole fish-tail in our tagine. (It’s us Josh, not you.)

We cooked cubbed Snapper, though next time I’d do cubbed Dory or even Barramundi.

As Josh interestingly points out, the whole piece of John Dory tail with the bones means you get the addition of gelatine into the sauce which would just wonderfully balance it out: I guess it dependents on whether you’re a fish-tail tagine sort of person.

Either way, this tagine is absolutely on point. We just loved it.

Put the kids to bed, open a cold Chardonnay and do this next Saturday.

Ingredients

6 x 150gm John Dory tail shank chops or darnes (or 1kg firm white fish, cubbed)
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt flakes
1/4 c currants
1/4 c coriander leaves
1/4 c mint leaves
Couscous to serve

Tagine Paste

1/4 c chilli flakes
1/4 c ras el hanout
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp ground coriander
2 tbsp ground turmeric
3 tsp sweet paprika
3 large onions, finely diced
6 large garlic cloves, finely grated
100gm peeled ginger coarsely chopped
2 long red chillies, seeds removed
12 thyme springs, leaves picked
1 bunch coriander, washed
1 bunch flat leaf (Italian) parsley, washed
12 salted anchovy fillets
1 c extra virgin olive oil

Tagine Base

100ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 x 400gm tins crushed tomatoes
1/2 star anise
500ml brown fish stock
Pinch of sea salt flakes
1 x 400gm tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 large fennel bulb, coarsely diced
Generous pinch of saffron threads, soaked in 60ml boiling water
1/4 c honey
Zest of 1 orange
Lemon juice, to taste
Fish sauce

Salt and Vinegar Pine Nuts

1/2 c pine nuts
1 tsp fine salt
3 tsp sherry vinegar

Preserved Lemon Yoghurt

90gm preserved lemon, pith removed
350gm natural yoghurt

Method

  1. To make the tagine paste, blitz all the ingredients in a blender until completely smooth.
  2. For the tagine base, warm the olive oil in a large, wide-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add the tagine paste and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes, until thoroughly cooked out and aromatic. Add the crushed tomatoes, star anise, stock and salt. Brind to a simmer and cook for 25 – 30 minutes until thick and fragrant, then add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  3. Rub each of the John Dory shanks with a little olive oil and season lightly with salt flakes.
  4. Using a tagine pot or flameproof casserole dish with a fitted lid, pour in enough of the sauce to completely cover the base to a depth of roughly 2.5cm, then nestle the shanks/cubbed fish into the sauce. Bring to the boil over a medium-heat, then cover with the lid, reduce the heat to low and leave to simmer very gently for 6 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. (46 – 48c if cooking the tail). Remove from the heat and leave the residual heat of the tagine to finish cooking the fish.
  5. To make the salt and vinegar pine nuts, add the pine nuts and salt to a dry frying pan and set over a high heat and toast for 3 – 4 minutes, tossing the nuts as you go, until evenly coloured all over.
  6. Add the sherry vinegar and continue to cook, tossing for 2 minutes until the nuts are thoroughly dried out. Remove from the heat.
  7. For the preserved lemon yoghurt, place the preserved lemon in a blender and blitz to a fine paste, adding a splash of warm water if necessary to deliver a simply smooth finish. Stir into the yoghurt and set aside until needed.
  8. To serve, bring the tagline to the table and serve with the pine nuts, preserved lemon yoghurt, currants, coriander, mint leaves and couscous.

Neil Perry’s Bar Rock Cod Tagine

Serves: 6

I’m putting it out there.

This is the best tagine I have had. Nat also thinks so. Ditto her sister Court to whom we dropped a meal pack during the intersection of Sydney’s lockdown and the birth of her first child, Ella.

Ella, I am the uncle you come to first.
Not socially distanced, though I am a carer, fully vaccinated, in a park and with one other person from another household. Also, I don’t care. This is my new niece.

Hello there Ella. You’re beautiful and as lucky as your parents are.

Anyway, back to this tagine.

It starts with a classic Neil Perry Chermoula that I have used so many times for his beef tagine and chicken tagine.

What makes it just that more interesting is firstly the fish which is so much nuanced than beef: and then the wonderful baby vegetables including the kipfler potatoes which are a totally new tagine element for me.

It does colour concerningly red fairly early on thanks to the baby beetroots, though hold the course.

Served with a couscous tossed with chicken stock, currents and flaked almonds, this tagine just hits you. (Or try this amazing couscous.)

It will be the dish of your week.

Ingredients

1kg bar rock cod, skinned, pin-boned and cut into 3-4cm cubes
6 baby beetroots, trimmed
3 bulbs baby fennel, trimmed and quartered
12 baby carrots, trimmed
12 small kipfler potatoes
1 1/2 cups Chermoula*
3 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tsp salt flakes
60gm blanched almonds
80gm green olives
1 preserved lemon, rind rinsed and thinly sliced
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons, strained
Couscous to serve

Chermoula

1 red onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 bunch coriander, stalks and leaves, roughly chopped
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, stalks and leaves, roughly chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt flakes
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tbsp chilli powder
1 tbsp ground turmeric
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tbsp ras el hanout
185ml extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon, strained

Method

  1. To make the Chermoula: place the onion, garlic, coriander, parsley, salt, ground cumin and coriander, chilli, turmeric, paprika and ras el hanout in a food processor and process for 1 minute. With the motor running, slowly pour in the oil to form a thick paste. Stir through the lemon juice.
  2. Combine the beetroot, fennel, carrot, potato, 1ltr of water, 1 1/2 c Chermoula, honey, salt, almonds and olives in a tagine or large saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour, covered, until the vegetables are well cooked.
  3. Stir the fish and preserved lemons through the vegetables. Simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes, until the fish is just cooked through, stirring very gently from time to time. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat.
  4. Divide among bowls and serve with the couscous.

* You will have leftover Chermoula. We marinated and grilled chicken breasts with the leftover Chermoula and you should too.

Lemon & Mint Eggplant Tagine with Almond Couscous (or Cauliflower Rice)

Serves: 4

This year, all of us in the RobbyDog family are observing Meat Free Monday.

Better for the environment and surely better for us. (We’re on a major diet post a major Christmas diet!)

Prior to this dish, I had never had a vegetarian tagine though Lordy, I wish I had!

It is simple.

It tastes wonderful.

It is super-low calorie at 361 calories.

And it is so filling. Like, you’re stuffed so much so that I had to double-check the servings to make sure I wasn’t eating for two.

(I wasn’t!)

We also switched out the couscous and almonds for cauliflower rice, saving a pile of calories in the process: definitely sub 300-calories which is our twice-daily meal target.

Finally, we added a chilli to the yoghurt which is a necessary addition of spice.

Every time we jump into a diet, we can’t stop fawning over how wonderful vegetables are on all the levels described above. We look a bit silly.

Hopefully, by adding many great vegetarian dishes to our repertoire over the next few months of shredding, we won’t forget.

Meat Free Monday is a pretty good way to start.

Ingredients

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped + 1 crushed
1 tbsp harissa
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
200ml vegetable stock
400gm can chopped tomato
1 large eggplant, trimmed and diced
Zest of 1 small lemon
400gm can of butter beans, drained
175gm whole meal couscous
40gm toasted flaked almond
150gm low fat Greek yoghurt
2 tbsp chopped mind
1 red chilli, chopped with seeds

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and softly fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Stir ion the harissa, cumin and cinnamon, cook briefly and add the stock and tomatoes.
  2. Add the eggplant and lemon and then cover the pan and cook gently for 15 – 20 minutes until the eggplant are tender. Add the butter beans and warm through.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the yoghurt, additional garlic, mint and chill=i.
  4. Cook the couscous and then stir in the almonds. Alternatively, prepare cauliflower rice.
  5. Serve the tagine on the couscous (or cauliflower rice) with the yoghurt drizzled over.

(Amazing) Moroccan Couscous

Serves: 4

Couscous is not something I have ever paid too much attention to when cooking a tagine or whatever it might be.

(The exception being Jamie Oliver’s Couscous Stuffed Roast Chicken where the couscous is the star of the show.)

My usual approach – couscous, olive oil, hot chicken stock, currants and maybe some slivered almonds – has been unceremoniously described by Nat – at its worst – as “glug”.

A criticism I’ve accepted because as I said, I’ve never paid too much attention to it: especially when a cracker of a tagine is ladled on-top.

This recipe affirmed what I have always known about couscous and that is that it can be so wonderful – even on its own – when shown the time. It can be much more than just a ho-hum base to a great tagine and it can certainly be much more than just glug.

To point, this couscous blew Nat away and she agreed it was tremendous.

In fact, I recall her saying something to the effect that it was the best couscous she had ever had.

Make the effort and do this. It is bloody amazing, light and wonderful tasting…. and turn-around your detractors in their steps.

Ingredients

450ml chicken stock
200gm couscous
½ red onion, finely diced
½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 long red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
60gm dried currants
Handful whole almonds, roasted
80gm butter, diced
2 egg yolks, beaten
Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Method

  1. Over a high heat, in a medium-sized pot, bring the stock to a boil.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and season well.
  3. When the stock is boiling, pour it over the couscous mixture, give it a stir and cover with glad wrap. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Uncover and gently run a fork through the couscous to fluff it up. Check your seasoning and serve.

Fish tagine with saffron & almonds

Serves: 4

Nat cooked this number last week and it was awesome.

Low calorie – 299 per serve to be seriously precise – and packing so much flavour, we had it with cauliflower rice remit with toasted cumin and coriander: some currants mixed through – as Nat pointed out – would have sealed the deal.

To think you can eat dinner like this on the couch mid-week, with a glass of vino and some catch-up TV actually makes the weekday slog OK. These are the moments to look forward to.

There is nothing not to like about this one and plenty to love. Do a kilo of fish like we did and toast the goodness into lunch at work as well.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
Good pinch, saffron
500ml hot fish or chicken stock
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
Green chilli, sliced (de-seed if you don’t want it too hot)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp tomato puree (passata)
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp ground almond (almond meal)
Zest of 1 orange, juice of ½
1 tbsp honey
700gm white fish, cut into chunks (make it a kilo and call it lunch)
Small bunch coriander, chopped
Handful flaked almonds, toasted
Couscous and natural yogurt to serve

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan; add the onion and cook for a few minutes until soft. Meanwhile, put the saffron in the hot stock and allow to steep.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli to the pan and cook for a few minutes more. Add the spices and tomato puree, stir for a few minutes and then add the tomatoes, ground almonds, orange zest and juice, honey and saffron-scented stock. Simmer until thickened a little and the tomatoes have broken down.
  3. Add the fish to the pan; stir in softly and cover with a lid; simmer for a few minutes until just cooked. Check the seasoning.
  4. Serve scattered with the chilli along with the couscous and a blob of yogurt. Or cauliflower rice if you are a genius like Nat.

Moroccan fish tagine with almond couscous

Serves: 4 – 6

As much as anyone loves a three hour slow-braise tagine, there isn’t time on Tuesday night for such extravagance.

Which is why we have some fabulous tagines like this one.

To reduce the calories even further, skip the butter and add a little chicken stock to your cous cous.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
250gm cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2/3 cup fish stock
½ preserved lemon, flesh discarded and rind sliced finely
16 pitted Kalamata olives
4 x 180gm skinless, deboned gemfish (or blue eye cod) fillets
Sea salt
Black pepper

Cous cous and to serve

2 cups couscous
30gm butter
1/3 cup flaked almonds, toasted

Handful coriander leaves

Method

  1. Heat oil in tagine (or saucepan) over medium heat. Gently fry onions for 5 minutes until beginning to soften. Add garlic and spices and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  2. Stir through tomatoes, stock, lemon rind and olives. Remove half of mixture and place in a bowl.
  3. Season fish with salt and pepper and lay it over the mixture still in the tagine. Top with remaining mixture from bowl. Cover with lid and reduce mixture to medium-low and cook for 12 minutes until fish is just translucent. Scatter coriander leaves on top.
  4. Meanwhile, boil kettle. Pour couscous into large mixing bowl and top with knob of butter. Seasons with salt and pepper. Pour two cups of boiling water over couscous and cover bowl tightly with cling wrap. Allow to stand for 3 minutes.
  5. Fold almonds through couscous and serve the tagine on the couscous with the coriander.

Moroccan meatball tagine with lemon and olives

Serves: 4

For a low carb dinner, this is a fabulous recipe; flavoursome, exotic and filling.

I chose to type it up because it is a mince recipe (my favourite), it is healthy (less than 400 calories per serve) and frankly, it tastes like something you’d get at a Moroccan restaurant, let alone being a dish you’d prepare to keep trim or get trim.

The original recipe asked for lamb mince and lamb stock, though I changed this to lean pork mince and chicken stock respectively. It would be fine with turkey mince as well.

I also steamed and sliced in two zucchini at the end of the cooking, to add some greenery and fill out the recipe.

And of course cous cous with chicken stock and currants.

Eat well, feel good!

Ingredients

3 onions, peeled, roughly chopped
500gm minced pork (or lamb, beef, chicken, turkey)
Zest and juice of one lemon, then quartered
1 tsp cumin
1tsp cinnamon
Pinch cayenne pepper
Small bunch flat0leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Pinch saffron strands
205ml chicken stock (or lamb if doing lamb)
1 tbsp tomato paste
100gm pitted black Kalamata olives
Small bunch coriander, chopped
Cous cous (with chicken stock, currants and toasted, slivered almonds) or fresh, crusty bread
2 zucchinis, steamed and sliced and added at the end
Method

  1. Put the onions in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Put the mince, lemon zest, spices, parsley and half the onions in a large bowl and season; combine. Using your hands, shape into walnut-sized balls.
  2. Heat the oil in a tagine (or large pan/heavy pot) and add the remaining onions, ginger, chilli and saffron. Cook for 5 minutes until the onion starts to soften. Add the lemon juice, stock, tomato paste and olives and bring to the boil. Add the meatballs one at a time, reduce the heat and cover, cooking for 20 minutes; turn the meatballs a few times during this time.
  3. Remove the lid and add the coriander and lemon wedges, tucking them in between the meatballs. Cook uncovered for another 10 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. Add any pre-cooked/steamed vegetables, carefully combine and serve with cous cous or crusty bread.

Neil Perry’s beef tagine with fried cauliflower

Neil Perry’s beef tagine with fried cauliflower

Serves 4

Holy shit, this is a great dish. The beef is so hot and intense, it is also a revelation and much more than your bog standard apricot and beef tagine in stock. It should surprise nobody that for me, Neil Perry is one of the best chefs around.

I thought about adding apricots to the dish to give it sweetness, though the raisins in the cous cous were more than ample. (I should have slightly adapted this recipe to be as I made it.)

Sprinkle with some toasted, slivered almonds and a handfuls of coriander and this is one of those meals where few words will be said.

Ingredients

1.2kg beef chuck, cut into 2.5cm dice
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 x 400g tin peeled, chopped tomatoes
1 small cauliflower, broken into florets
½⁄ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Good handful of tast
Chopped coriander

Chermoula

1 medium Spanish onion, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves
Sea salt
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp ras-el-hanout
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp coriander leaves
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley
1 tsp crushed dried chillies
Juice of 1 lemon

Cous Cous

Cous Cous
Chicken Stock
Raisins

Method

  1. To make the chermoula, puree all the ingredients together in a food processor until relatively smooth.
  2. Marinate the diced beef in the chermoula paste for one hour.
  3. Heat three tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a saucepan big enough to fit all the beef. When just smoking, add the beef (shaking off as much marinade as you can, though reserving the marinade) and quickly saute to colour and seal well on all sides.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and a cup of water to the bowl the beef was previously marinating in, mix well and add to the saucepan. Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook gently for about two to two-and-a-half hours or until beef is tender.
  5. Toast the almonds and prepare the cous cous with the stock and the raisins.
  6. When the beef is nearly ready, bring a pot of salted water to the boil, add the cauliflower florets and cook for one minute. Drain the cauliflower well, allow to dry then shallow-fry the cauliflower in a small saucepan with the remaining olive oil.
  7. To serve, spoon the cous cous into bowls, ladle the beef on-top, sprinkle with the browned cauliflower, give a good grind of pepper and sprinkle with the coriander and almonds.