Exploring Moroccan Food

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					 Food &Drink                                                                             28 North Africa Times                                                                              Sunday 1/6/2008



Exploring Moroccan Food
I
    f you’re not familiar with the cuisine of Mo-          - 1/2 cup chicken stock
    rocco, learning about preserved lemons is a            - 4 Tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus
    good way to start. Moroccan preserved lem-         extra whole leaves for garnish
ons are actually skin-on lemons that have been             - Kosher salt, to taste
pickled in salt and lemon juice. Most recipes              - 1 whole preserved lemon, or equivalent
suggest letting the lemons sit in the salt/lemon       chunks
juice mixture for several weeks before using               - 18 or more pitted cracked green or kalama-
them, although there are a few quicker meth-           ta olives, cut in half
ods. Once the lemons are ready, it’s the peel of           - 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
the preserved lemons that’s used in Moroccan               Combine garlic and spices, plus 1 tsp olive
cooking, often added to the type of Moroccan           oil, in a large dish. Add chicken, massage all
stew called a TajineYou can buy preserved              over with the spice paste, and marinate in a
lemons online, or at a good import market, but         ziploc bag, in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or
plenty of food bloggers have written about how         overnight.
easy they are to make at home.                             Place remaining oil and onion in the base of
                                                       a tagine or Dutch oven, and cook over lowest
Moroccan Preserved Lemons                              heat until translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add chick-
    - Scrub the lemons with a vegetable brush          en to the pot along with
and dry them off.                                      marinade in the bag,
    - Cut off the little rounded bit at the stem end   plus the stock, parsley
if there’s a hard little piece of the stem attached.   and a little bit of salt.
From the other end of the lemon, make a large          Cover, and cook for 10
cut by slicing lengthwise downward, stopping           minutes.Meanwhile,
about 1-inch (3 cm) from the bottom, then mak-         remove the pith and                                                                                          lengthwise. Slice the preserved kumquats in
ing another downward slice, so you’ve incised          pulp from the preserved                                                                                      half, also lengthwise.
the lemon with an X shape.                             lemon, and rinse the                                                                                            Rinse the fish and thoroughly dry with paper
    - Pack coarse salt into the lemon where you        peel. Julienne into thin                                                                                     towels in and out. Season with salt and pepper
made the incisions. Don’t be skimpy with the           strips. Place olives in a                                                                                    in and out and place in the broiler pan, piling
salt: use about 1 tablespoon per lemon.                saucepan with enough                                                                                         the preserved lemon and kumquats on top.
    - Put the salt-filled lemons in a clean, large      water to cover; bring                                                                                        Drizzle with the olive oil.Turn the oven on to
glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add a few co-       to a boil, then drain.                                                                                       broil and set the fish under the broiler for about
riander seeds, a bay leaf, a dried chili, and a        Repeat at least once                                                                                         5 minutes, If the preserved lemon and kum-
cinnamon stick if you want. (Or a combination          more, to remove bit-                                                                                         quats begin to char you can push them down
of any of them.)                                       terness from the olives.                                                                                     next to the fish. Carefully turn the fish over,
    - Press the lemons very firmly in the jar to        Add lemon strips and                                                                                         rearranging the lemon and kumquats back on
get the juices flowing. Cover and let stand over-       olives to the chicken,                                                                                       top if they are not too brown, and cook another
night.                                                 cover, and simmer for 30 minute more, or until            Mix all the ingredients. Taste and adjust sea-
                                                                                                                                                                    5 minutes. Depending on the thickness of your
    - The next day do the same, pressing the lem-      the chicken is cooked through. Add lemon juice         soning, if necessary. Serve.
                                                                                                                                                                    fish it will be ready. If it is thicker than 1 inch,
ons down, encouraging them to release more             and adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pep-                                                             turn the flame down and let it finish in the oven
juice as they start to soften. Repeat for a 2-3        per. Garnish with fresh parsley leaves. Serve          MEDITERRANEAN SEA BASS WITH
                                                                                                                                                                    for a few more minutes. Remove the broiling
days until the lemons are completely covered           with couscous.                                         PRESERVED CITRUS
                                                                                                                                                                    pan from the oven and add the olive. Let the
with liquid. If your lemons aren’t too juicy, add                                                                 Also known as European Sea Bass or Bran-
                                                                                                                                                                    fish rest for a few minutes while the olives
more freshly-squeezed lemon juice until their              MOROCCAN SALMON, FENNEL-PRE-                       zino, this little fish tastes a bit like perch, with
                                                                                                                                                                    warm through. Place the fish on serving plates,
submerged, as I generally have to do.                  SERVED LEMON SALAD & SWEET PO-                         a similar white, firm flake and a mild sweetness
                                                                                                                                                                    topping with the lemons, kumquats and olives.
    - After one month, when the preserved lem-         TATO OVEN FRIES                                        that will remind you of fresh scallops. With
                                                                                                                                                                    Pour and pan juices over the fish and serve.
ons are soft, they’re ready to use. Store the lem-     - 1 pound salmon fillets                                relatively few and easy to remove bones, and
ons in the refrigerator, where they’ll keep for at     - 1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground cumin seed                 firm flesh that holds its shape when cooked, it’s
                                                                                                                                                                    TAGINE OF CHICKEN & LEMON
least 6 months. Rinse before using to remove           - 1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground coriander seed             well-suited for pan frying or grilling, or in this
                                                                                                                                                                        - 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
excess salt.                                           - 1 1/2 tsp. paprika                                   case for broiling. In keeping with its Mediter-
                                                                                                                                                                        - 2 teaspoons of black pepper
    To use: Remove lemons from the liquid and          - 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes                    ranean origin I prepared it simply, with a lit-
                                                                                                                                                                        - 2 teaspoons of ground ginger
rinse. Split in half and scrape out the pulp. Slice    - 1/2 tsp. salt                                        tle preserved lemon, kumquat and kalamata
                                                                                                                                                                        - 1 teaspoon of turmeric
the lemon peels into thin strips or cut into small     - 1 Tbsp. olive oil                                    olives.
                                                                                                                                                                        - 2 tablespoons of olive oil
dices. You may wish to press the pulp through              Wash the salmon and dry it well. Using nee-            This recipe is lovely with fillets, too, if you
                                                                                                                                                                        - 2 onions, chopped
a sieve to obtain the flavorful juice, which can        dle-nosed pliers, remove as many pin-bones             don’t want to deal with a whole fish, though
                                                                                                                                                                        - 2 chicken breasts
be used for flavoring as well, and then discard         from the fillet as possible. Skin the fish, if nec-      you will want to change your cooking method,
                                                                                                                                                                        - 1 cup of chicken broth
the innards.Once you have your supply of pre-          essary, and cut it into 4 even pieces.                 as it is very difficult to flip fillets. Julia Child
                                                                                                                                                                        - 1 lemon or preserved lemon
served lemons, here are some ideas for using               Mix the cumin, coriander, paprika, pepper          advocates use of liquid when broiling fish,
                                                                                                                                                                        - Some chopped prunes, dried apricots, plum
them:                                                  flakes, and salt. Rub the spices over both sides        based on a method she learned from George
                                                                                                                                                                    conserve, or a few spoonfuls of raisins (whatev-
                                                       of the salmon fillets.                                  Berkowitz. This allows the top side of the fish
                                                                                                                                                                    er of these you have, just toss in a small amount
CHICKEN WITH PRESERVED LEMON                               Heat the olive oil in a pan until it is hot, but   to brown beautifully, while the bottom side
                                                                                                                                                                    of it, I used about 3 spoonfuls of conserve)
AND OLIVES                                             not smoking. Turn the heat to medium high, and         cooks through and is kept moist and tender in
                                                                                                                                                                        What you’ll do...
    If there’s one dish that everyone thinks of as     add the salmon. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes, or until       the liquid. The fish is dried with paper towels,
                                                                                                                                                                        1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Rub the chicken
typically Moroccan, it’s this one, often called a      the pan side of the salmon is lightly browned.         seasoned with salt and pepper, and placed in a
                                                                                                                                                                    with the cinnamon, black pepper, and ground
tagine, and cooked in a pot of the same name.          Turn over and cook for 1 - 3 minutes, or un-           buttered shallow baking dish. The top of the
                                                                                                                                                                    ginger, then let sit for an hour, covered, in the
Usually a whole chicken is cut into serving            til the salmon is done to your taste. The exact        fish is dried again and buttered or oiled. White
                                                                                                                                                                    fridge.
pieces; in this version, I’ve adapted to use bone-     cooking time depends on the fillets’ thickness;         wine or water is poured to half the height of
                                                                                                                                                                        2) Place the olive oil and turmeric in a
less, skinless chicken thighs, which cook much         keep in mind that salmon tastes better slightly        the fish and the fish is broiled, brushing once or
                                                                                                                                                                    saucepot or skillet, mix, and heat over medium
more quickly than using chicken on the bone,           underdone than it does when it’s overdone.             twice with butter or oil, until done.
                                                                                                                                                                    high heat. Place the chicken breasts in and sear
but still stay moist. The chicken does need to             Serve immediately on a bed of Fennel and                                                                 on each side to seal in the juices. The chicken
marinate for a while before cooking, so be sure        Preserved Lemon Salad.                                 A one pound fish will feed one person, so ad-
                                                                                                                                                                    should brown a bit and be very fragrant. About
to leave extra time. Serves 6-8.                                                                              just the recipe accordingly.
                                                                                                                                                                    2-3 minutes.
    - 3 cloves garlic, crushed                         Fennel and Preserved Lemon Salad                       - 3 whole Mediterranean Sea Bass, about 1
                                                                                                                                                                        3) Place the chicken in the tagine or other
    - 1/2 tsp ground ginger                               - 2 cups diced fennel, 1/4” dice                    pound each, scaled, gutted, gills and fins re-
                                                                                                                                                                    oven safe dish to rest. Toss in the onions into
    - 1/2 tsp ground cumin                                - 1 cup diced red bell pepper, 1/4” dice            moved
                                                                                                                                                                    the sauce pot or skillet so they can get a very
    - 1/4 tsp ground black pepper                         - 2/3 cup finely sliced green onions                 - 2 Tbsp olive oil
                                                                                                                                                                    quick sear and soak up the rest of the turmeric
    - 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, or 1 tsp harissa            - 3 Tbsp. minced preserved lemon peel               - 1/2 preserved lemon
                                                                                                                                                                    and oil. About 30 seconds.
    - 1/2 tsp turmeric                                    - 2 tsp. minced garlic                              - 6 preserved kumquats
                                                                                                                                                                        4) Place in the tagine over the chicken. Add
    - Pinch of saffron, crushed slightly                  - 1/2 tsp. freshly ground fennel seed               - 6-8 kalamata or black olives, pitted and
                                                                                                                                                                    the chicken broth and fruit. Place a few slices
    - 2 Tbsp olive oil                                    - Freshly ground black pepper                       halved
                                                                                                                                                                    of lemon over it and cover. Place in the oven
    - 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs,               - 1/3 cup Preserved Lemon Aioli (see recipe             - Salt and pepper
                                                                                                                                                                    for 35 minutes.
trimmed, cut into large chunks                         below)                                                     Rinse half of a preserved lemon under cold
                                                                                                                                                                        5) Let sit for 5 minutes to cool a bit, and then
    - 1 large onion, finely chopped                        - 1/2 cup capers (optional)                         water, discarding the pulp. Thinly slice the peel
                                                                                                                                                                    serve with rice or couscous.

				
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Description: Exploring Moroccan Food