Roast Sea Bass with Peppers

In an attempt to recreate the taste of home over the weekend of Eid al Fitr, I had to learn to cook roast sea bass with mixed peppers like a Moroccan.

It all started because of a craving. What do you miss most when you are away from home? 

Usually, when I am in Morocco with my husband and son, I crave English tea and cheddar cheese. When my parents and friends visit, I make sure to always request a large box of Yorkshire tea bags and then try my hardest to eke out the bounty for as long as possible, using each tea bag for two mugs and slicing the cheese so thinly I nearly cut myself.

Since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, I have been “at home” in the UK staying with my parents and all the cups of tea I can drink, while my Moroccan husband waits out the pandemic at our house in Essaouira. 

Honestly, the months are dragging on and it is becoming increasingly difficult to stay cheerful while my 14-month-old points at my wedding photos on the windowsill chanting “DADDA, DADDA, DADDA!”

Despite being in my “home” country and having unlimited supplies of both cheddar cheese and Yorkshire tea, I am beginning to miss home more and more. I must admit I was surprised by how sorry I was to be missing out on my mother-in-law’s Eid al Fitr treats, though I managed to hide my food-envy as my husband showed me the Eid breakfast over a WhatsApp call. 

Then, to my surprise, I realized that I miss more than just my husband. I miss my home, Morocco, and I am craving the taste of breakfast batbout, my mother-in-law’s cornes de gazelles, and my husband’s roasted sea bass.

Mr Handaji's roasted fish with peppers and roe made in our Essaouira kitchen
Mr. Handaji’s roasted fish with peppers and roe made in our Essaouira kitchen. Photo: Madeleine Handaji/Morocco World News

While I could not recreate the taste of fresh fish from Essaouira’s port, or the warm buzz of sharing a meal with my husband, I could cook roast sea bass with peppers like a Moroccan dad

So, for Eid, my son and I shared a delicious meal with his “Dadda” over video call and enjoyed a little taste of home.

So, here is my husband’s recipe for fresh Moroccan-style sea bass with vegetables and a healthy dollop of love.

First you will need:
  • Three large gutted sea bass 
  • Two courgettes
  • Two large potatoes
  • Two peppers (yellow, red, or a mix)
  • Two lemons
  • A healthy bunch of coriander
  • A handful of parsley
  • Plenty of garlic
  • Paprika
  • Ground ginger
  • Cumin
  • Two crushed cardamom pods
  • Turmeric
  • Black pepper
  • A pinch of saffron
  • Plenty of salt
  • Olive oil
Time to start cooking:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Slice up all of your vegetables into round discs. Cover the bottom of a roasting dish with a mosaic of courgettes and potatoes and then place the pepper rounds over the potato layer.
  3. Drizzle some oil over your vegetables and sprinkle on some salt and black pepper.
  4. Throw in the peeled garlic and make sure the cloves are spread across the tray.
  5. Now mix all of the spices with the finely chopped herbs with a glug of olive oil. Rub your fish in the mixture and stuff each one with the remaining herbs and spices and a slice of lemon.
  6. Drizzle any remaining oil/spice mixture over your veggies and then place the fish on top of your vegetable mosaic. 
  7. Place slices of lemon on top of the fish and roast in the oven for 45 minutes. You will be able to see when the fish is cooked through as the eyes will turn white.
  8. Serve with fresh lemon and some freshly baked bread. 
Roast the sea bass in the oven for 45 minutes
Roast the sea bass in the oven for 45 minutes. Photo: Madeleine Handaji/Morocco World News

Now you can officially cook like a Moroccan dad!

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