Maman’s Moroccan Fish

For our last Passover entrée, I am going to share with you a very special fish recipe courtesy of my husband’s nephew’s wife, Sharone. Sharone is Sephardic Jew with Moroccan ancestry. She also happens to be a very talented cook; her Mediterranean-influenced dishes are always healthy and tasty.

According to Sharone, it’s customary in many Sephardic families to eat fish every Friday night for Erev Shabbat. Her family was very traditional, so growing up they would always eat fish on Friday night. While the type of fish would change from week to week, the basic method of preparation was always the same. Sharone’s little girl nicknamed this recipe “Maman’s Fish”—Maman is what she calls her grandmother, Sharone’s mom, who taught her the recipe. I like this name, so I have taken to calling it that as well.  :)

I think this dish would be fabulous as the centerpiece of a healthy Seder meal, or for any day of the year. It also happens to be super easy to make!

Next week, I’ll be covering Seder side dishes. Hope you all have a great weekend, Shabbat Shalom!

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Maman's Moroccan Fish


  • 4 boneless fish fillets (best if you use a firm, dense fish like halibut or snapper)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, cut into large pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into long thin strips
  • 5 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 large dried red chili peppers
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 heaping tbsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Servings: 4 servings
Kosher Key: Pareve
  • For this recipe, you will need a sauté pan, it’s like a wide, deep skillet with higher sides. Before you start cooking, reserve a few pieces of the cilantro for garnish.
  • Place cilantro, bell pepper slices, garlic and chili peppers in the bottom of the pan to create a “bed” for the fish.
  • Place fish fillets on top of the other ingredients. Season fillets generously with salt and pepper, then sprinkle turmeric evenly across fillets.
  • Add 1 ½ cups of water to the pan. Cover pan, turn flame on high, and bring to a boil. As soon as the water boils, reduce heat to medium and uncover the pan. Mixture should be simmering lightly at this point. Allow mixture to simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes, basting fillets periodically, until the water reduces by half and turns yellow.
  • In a small bowl, mix together olive oil and paprika with a fork. Pour red oil mixture over the fish fillets, coating them evenly. Let the fish simmer uncovered for 20 minutes more, basting frequently. Fish is done when liquid is reduced to about a quarter of what it was originally, and the fish has turned a rich red color.
  • Serve fish and bell peppers together with the grain and/or vegetable of your choice. I like to serve it with a starch like mashed potatoes (or couscous, if it’s not Passover); the red sauce from the pan can be poured over the top of the fish and the potatoes. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.
  • You can create some interesting variations on this recipe by changing the ingredients in the bottom of the pan (the “bed” for the fish fillets). Try peeled lemon slices (no peel or the fish will turn bitter), carrot sticks, garbanzo beans with red chili pepper flakes, or pitted green olives. Enjoy!

Comments (32)Post a Comment

  1. this is truly interesting as my daughter was just reading a book about a young girl who’s family was ‘passing’ as Catholic during the dark ages when it was common to be burned at the stake if you were Jewish. I can see, with the Passover holy days coinciding with Lent, how fish would become a Friday meal, old habits die hard… would be interesting to see how this tradition came to be. Love your blog, by the way, and wish you only the best in your endeavors.

    1. What was the name of the book your daughter was reading Virginia. Just wondering. thanks. mf.

  2. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    WOW! I am truly impressed! The pictures of the recipie in the various stages could have been straight from my “Maman” and My kitchen!
    It looks delicious and I love the idea of serving it with couscous.
    Have a Shabbat Shalom!

  3. Andrea, it’s not a bad idea, abstaining from meat every Friday. In fact, I abstain from meat regularly… I only eat it once or twice per week. :)

    Sharone, you are an angel, thank you so much for this amazing recipe! I had it again for lunch today. Fabulous as always. Shabbat Shalom! xoxo

  4. hi tory
    my kids hate fish willnot eat it but they ate them all and asked for SECONDS
    G-d bless u

  5. Dear Shiksa,

    I want to make it for my husband this Friday it looks really good. Anyway I was disappointed not to find sweet paprika in my neighborhood stores. I am in Port Washington, on Long Island. Do you think I have to go into the city to find sweet paprika? Do you know Long Island? Thank you.

  6. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I am STILL enjoying the DELICIOUS, INCREDIBLE, EVER-SO-TASTY Moroccan Couscous!! I absolutely loved it!! I look forward to cooking it myself :)! I also was blown away by the incredibly yummy Moroccan Date/Coconut Truffles!! Thank you for introducing my taste buds to these fantastic foods! :) xo karen g.

  7. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Looks great.
    for your readers,
    sweet paprika = paprika (0 HU, approx. 100 ASTA)
    hot paprika = cayenne pepper (20-40,000 HU)
    Zack Melzer

    1. Hey Zack, thanks for the comment. I may be wrong, but I think there is also another spice called “Sweet Paprika.” Either Sweet Paprika or regular Paprika will work for this recipe. Cayenne would be far to spicy, though you can certainly add a dash or two to spice things up!

      Here’s an example of Sweet Paprika, which is what I was told to use in this recipe:

      link to

  8. Hi Shiksa,
    I plan to try your Moroccan fish this weekend. I am Israeli Ashkenazi, but my niece Merav, who is Moroccan mixed, makes a version of this dish whenever we Ashkenazis have Gefilte Fish (sweet).
    As for the spices, I own a food manufacturing company, and we buy tons (literaly) of spices, including paprika. According to ASTA (the American Spice Trade Association), paprika is only described by its color (in units called ASTA), and country of origin, such as Hungary or Spain. There is no modifier such as “sweet” or “hot”. Also, if you want to enhance the appearance of paprika, add some oil to it and blend. As for what Israelis call “hot paprika”, it’s the same as “hot pepper” or “cayenne pepper”, registering heat (or spiciness) measured in Heat Units (HU), ranging between 20,000 to 40,000.
    Shabbat Shalom

  9. Hi, I’m no cook but I had a go at this recipe this evening and we really enjoyed it. I love the fact that I had your photos to follow, it really helped. BTW I had to find out what cilanto is – over here in the UK it’s called coriander.
    We thought next time we may try it out on a bed of spinach – hope Maman won’t mind !

    Thanks for a glorious website…

    1. Wonderful Claire! So glad you liked the recipe, thank you so much for reporting back! As for the spinach, I bet it will taste great… and I don’t think Maman will mind a bit! 😉

  10. Is this dish spicy, because it calls for three dried chili peppers. Should I use mild chili peppers, or something else (medium, hot)?

    1. Hi Suzy! The dish is not super spicy, actually– the chili peppers flavor the sauce a bit, but they don’t make it a spicy dish (unless you eat them!). I discard them before serving. If you’re sensitive to spice, use mild. If you like a kick, you can use medium or hot– but even using hot peppers won’t make this dish really spicy. It will just add a mild heat. Hope you enjoy it!

  11. I know this is an older recipe, but I still feel like I could add something to the conversation. I’m also of Sephardic descent and I can tell you that the fish that is eaten on a Friday is simply a course and does not replace the meat. No traditional Sephardic Shabbat meal would be complete without it! As for the recipe: the way I was thought to make it uses the same ingredients, but a different way to cook. You start with putting olive oil in the pan, you cover that with the spices and then the rest of the ingredients. Try to keep it as low as possible! Then you place the fish on top and carefully add water to the top of the fish. Then over a low fire you cook the fish until almost all the liquid evaporates and a thick red sauce remains. I know it feels unnatural to cook fish for that long, but it’s sooo good when done :-)

  12. Came across this recipe when I was looking for a different way to serve fish. Loved the fact that all of the ingredients were store cupboard and that it was a simple recipe. The only ingredient I did not have was coriander, so I substituted rocket. We absolutely loved it! Served it with plain boiled rice and mixed salad and accompanied by a glass of dry, white wine, it was the perfect summer meal. I will certainly be making this again.

  13. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    This looks wonderful–such beautiful color! How deep are the fillets originally submerged in water? From the photo it looks like the water comes half way up. thanks!!

  14. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Just finished eating this delightful dish! My husband wanted something with fish for dinner so I searched your site and this one caught my eye. I used red pepper flakes instead of whole red peppers and orange roughy for the fish. Very tasty – served with rice since i already had some prepared… I will definitely make this again!

  15. When you make it for Passover do you leave the table/service to go cook? Is it possible to cook in advance and re-heat or would that be awful?

    1. Hi Kate, I generally make this recipe during the week of Passover and not for Seder. However, this particular fish recipe will reheat well if you are using a firm fish fillet. What I would do is cook it right before Seder starts, take it off the heat, then reheat for a couple of minutes just before serving. You don’t want to overcook it or it will start to fall apart, but reheating for a minute or two should be fine. Enjoy!

  16. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Fantastic recipe, my family loved it! I made only one change, I used fresh spinach in place of cilantro.( my husband hates the taste of cilantro). Plus, I could only find Mahi mahi.

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