This is a very popular dish in Israel and is based on a famous old Moroccan fish recipe.
Every home cook makes it a little different depending on where the family originally came from. I think it is safe to say that no two Moroccan Fish dishes are the same.
It is often served for Friday night Shabbat dinner in Israeli homes of Moroccan origin. This dish can be made with any fish you like but traditionally it is cooked with a white type of fish. It can be with or without bones which give it much flavor but here I am making flounder without the bones, simply much less work to eat that way!
My grandfather was a Moroccan Jew that married my grandmother in Egypt, she was an Egyptian Jew. My memory of her delicious Moroccan fish dish has stayed with me ever since I was a child. She served it for Shabbat dinner on Friday night and then served it again cold the next day on a small plate for everyone as an appetizer, with the sauce drizzled on it on Shabbat (Saturday) for lunch.
It tasted like a completely different dish the next day and even better. My cousins and I from Israel and the UK still talk about that fish dish to this day.
I can taste her cooking and smell the fabulous aroma of her garlic tomato sauce throughout her tiny flat in the city of Acco in Israel, as if as I am there now. We couldn’t wait to sit down and dip pieces of torn off challah bread in the sauce when lunchtime came.
I know she would be smiling knowing that we all still drool over her cooking with love. She was a quiet woman, so agreeable always and a loving grandmother. She just always smiled, and loved.
So let’s get started with this amazing fish in garlic sauce that my grandmother left a lifetime mark on her grandchildren with.
4 fillets of flounder (Can be any white fillets of fish)
1 ½ teaspoons salt or according to taste
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoons cumin
½ cup parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon ground chilly pepper
½ teaspoon black ground pepper
3 cloves garlic, crushed
4 leaves fresh Basil chopped (optional)
2 large carrots sliced thinly into rounds
1 red bell pepper chopped small (optional)
½ teaspoon turmeric
3 tablespoons olive oil.
3 medium tomatoes chopped.
1 cup water.
Heat oil in a large wide pan and add chopped tomatoes. Sautée for about 10 minutes until almost stewed. Add chopped garlic and seasoning, mix and cook for a few minutes taking care not to burn the garlic. I always fry my spices first rather than add them to the cooking later. This opens up your spices and the flavor is so much better when cooked this way.
Add the carrots and bell peppers, mix well with rest of ingredients and add half the amount of water. Let cook covered for about 20 -30 minutes until there's about a ¼ of the sauce left in the pan. Check during cooking time to make sure your sauce didn't dry up. Add a little more water if this happens. Add parsley and stir.
Make space in pan for fish portions by separating the mixed carrots and bell peppers and laying the fillets flat, then spoon sauce mixture over them. Add remaining water and bring to a boil.
Cover and lower heat to medium, cook for about 20 - 30 minutes depending on the thickness of your fish fillets constantly checking to see if liquid is absorbed. If all liquid is absorbed add a little more water and continue to do so until a little sauce remains in the bottom, being careful not to burn the bottom of the pan.
Take cover off for 10 - 15 more minutes or so until fish is tender and the sauce is reduced to covering a ¼ of the pan at the bottom.
Serve with rice or cous cous and dip pita bread in the sauce to clean the plate, it's part of the tradition.
And don’t forget the Israeli salad!
Also delicious portioned the next day as a cold appetizer on a small plate.