This is my new go-to BBQ sauce…I want it on everything! On Tuesday I attended a cooking class compliments of my daughter (for Mother’s Day) and really wasn’t sure what to expect. The menu appealed to me but I wasn’t sure how the instructor would come across. It’s so important to hit the ground running and chef Michael Proietti nailed it! You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. A smile came over my face as I watched his enthusiasm grow with every step. He engaged all seven of us with a bit of humor thrown in and instantly made us all feel more comfortable with him. The last cooking class I took was back in Thailand at the Blue Elephant cooking school (2009). I must say I thoroughly enjoyed Tuesday’s class at Sur la Table.
The menu, a Moroccan Feast, consisted of fish and vegetable kebabs with charmoula sauce, chicken and lemon tagine, marinated carrots with cumin, cilantro and mint followed by a coconut-orange cake with honey whipped cream…drool! The charmoula sauce really makes the kebabs shine. Charmoula is a marinade used in Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian cooking.
adapted from Sur la Table
1 1/2 lb. swordfish or other firm fish fillets (cod, halibut, tuna, grouper, shark, monkfish or seafood), cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large red bell peppers, halved and seeded and cut into chunks
1 or 2 small zucchini, trimmed and cut into half-inch rounds
wooden skewers, soaked in water (30 minutes)
Charmoula Sauce –
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro/coriander, coarsely chopped
2 small cloves of garlic, skins removed
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
To make the sauce, place cumin seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly – 2 to 3 minutes or until a shade darker and fragrant. Allow to cool and place in a mortar or spice grinder and grind finely. If you are using a mortar, add the rest of the spices and stir to combine. If not, add remaining spices to a small bowl and combine.
In a blender, combine parsley, cilantro, and garlic and process to a paste. If using a mortar, pound with pestle until a paste is formed. Gradually add the spices and process. With the motor running, slowly add oil. If using a mortar, slowly add the oil to the paste until blended. Season to taste and adjust accordingly by adding more salt and or cayenne and lemon juice.
In a large bowl combine bell peppers and zucchini. Add 3 tablespoons of the charmoula sauce and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate with the fish.
Thread the fish and vegetables onto skewers. Lightly brush with charmoula sauce. To cook, use the broiler in your oven – about 4 inches from the heat or cook on a barbeque. Cook 8 to 10 minutes or until the veggies are tender and fish is opaque in the center.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: Serve this with seasoned couscous. Charmoula sauce works well with chicken, beef, pork, vegetbales etc. so don’t worry if you have any leftover. It will keep in the fridge for at least a month. If you have a pestle and mortar, I highly recommend using this in lieu of a food processor. I find the sauce tastes better, it’s not as refined and for me it feels more authentic. Enjoy!