Middle Eastern Tomato Garlic Fish

Middle Eastern Tomato Garlic Fish with Roasted Bell Peppers - Easy, Healthy, Flavorful Entree Recipe by Tori Avey

This fish recipe is my take on a Sephardic-style fish preparation that has been in my husband’s family for generations. I used to make it for our family frequently, but a couple of years ago I moved it to the back of my recipe box. It is best made with sea bass, a flaky, buttery white fish with a mild flavor that can stand up to a relatively long simmer. When I heard that Chilean sea bass was being boycotted due to overfishing, I stopped making this recipe as often. When I did make it, I used black cod as a substitute. That all changed a month ago when I discovered Australis Barramundi, a sustainable and delicious sea bass from Massachusetts. Before I go on, I should let you know that I have not been paid to promote or endorse this product. I just love it and feel more people should know about it! This sea bass is one of the tastiest I’ve tried. It’s sold in the frozen section of my local Whole Foods. After reading more about this healthy fish, which is sustainably farmed in clean waters and has high levels of Omega 3’s, I was “hooked.” It’s not cheap, but it is less expensive than fresh sea bass from our local fishmonger. We now enjoy sea bass again a couple of times a month as a treat. Of course you can use any sea bass, cod or haddock you prefer in this recipe… just thought I’d give Australis a shout out because we love it!

This recipe is super easy to make. After defrosting your fish (if using frozen fillets), it only takes about 30 minutes to prep and cook. The sauce is mildly spicy and slightly sweet, filled with a wonderful garlicky flavor. While 20-ish minutes might seem like a long time to simmer fish fillets, the bed of herbs below helps to keep them away from direct heat. This means the fish can slowly simmer and soak up the rich flavor of the sauce. The fillets may separate a bit while cooking, depending on how thin they’re cut; sea bass tends to hold up quite well. I like to serve the fish over cauliflower couscous for a low carb, gluten free, light and satisfying meal. You could also serve it over regular couscous or rice if you’re so inclined. I must say that the cauliflower couscous is really delicious, and it’s kosher for Passover too, which makes it super versatile. To learn how to roast bell peppers (you’ll need them for this recipe), click here. You can also used jarred roasted peppers in a pinch.

Note: The Australis brand is not kosher certified but sea bass is a kosher fish, so those who keep strictly kosher should follow their own protocol here.

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Middle Eastern Tomato Garlic Fish with Roasted Bell Peppers - Easy, Healthy, Flavorful Entree Recipe by Tori Avey

Middle Eastern Tomato Garlic Fish


  • 4 mild, flaky white fish fillets - sea bass or black cod recommended
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (adds a slight kick - if you're spice sensitive, feel free to omit)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 large roasted red bell peppers, peeled and sliced - to learn how to roast bell peppers, click here
  • 2 handfuls fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 12 whole garlic cloves
  • Cauliflower couscous for serving - optional, click here for recipe

You will also need

  • Large saute pan with lid, whisk
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Kosher Key: Pareve

Comments (26)Post a Comment

  1. What was the geiger counter reading on that dish? After Fukushima..those are huge questions to consider. No fish is free from Fukushima contamination…not even fresh water fish. When will cooks start posting geiger counter readings with recipes? I wanted to pm this to you Tory. I hope this doesn’t cause people to blow a gasket cause I mentioned Fukushima…it’s a game changer though and no games seem to be changing…it makes me wonder about how trustworthy any food site is. I really have enjoyed your page Tori. <3

    1. Kathy Grinslade I appreciate your concerns, in fact I shared them till I learned more about the issue. I am devastated by Fukushima and what it means long-term for the health of the Japanese people. However, after researching the issue quite a bit, I’ve realized that there is a lot of misinformation out there regarding how it affects our seafood. Many of the articles that originally concerned me are written from an alarmist point of view, citing untrue “facts.” There is even one article with a scary illustration of the radiation spreading into the Pacific– it is actually a geological map that is displaying something completely unrelated to radiation, lifted from another site. I think that this issue has been somewhat blown out of proportion. I feel confident that my family is safe based on where we source our fish and the amount of fish we eat (2-3 times per month). Here is an article that sums up how I feel about the issue: link to articles.latimes.com

  2. Fish or seafood is a tricky thing when it comes to sustainability and contamination. I refrain from shrimp and mussels sometimes due to contamination but when I find a reliable source, I purchase. Thanks for all the links. People sometimes like to create fear and we assume everything put on web is thoroughly searched and correct. I am amazed how much junk info outthere sometimes.
    Will definitely try this when I am home in Istanbul. I love going to the fish markets there. We normally fry or bake, but this is a good method to add to our usual routine.

  3. Hello,
    I tried this recipe, and my roommates and I really liked it. The flavor was good, and I appreciate how relatively simple it was to make. However, we noticed the that the fish smelled particularly “fishy” when we heated it up the next day. Have you experienced this? Or do you know how to keep that from happening? By the way, your website is beautiful, and I’m excited to try some of your other recipes.
    Thanks :)

    1. Hi Reba! I don’t usually keep fish leftovers, in my experience they always have that “fishy taste” the next day. I try to plan it so I only make what we’ll eat. Sorry I can’t help you more here. Glad you liked the recipe!

  4. Just discovered your site and am glad I did. This recipe intrigues me. I’m not a bad cook, but i’m not very professional, either. It’s very helpful to show some of the step-by-step pictures. The visualization just makes it that much easier. I look forward to keeping up with your posts.

  5. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Tried your moroccan fish recipe recently and absolutely loved it. Can’t wait to try this one. Just want to point out that not all Australis Barramundi is farmed in Massachusetts. The Australis Barramundi that I looked at in the Boise, Idaho Whole Foods was from Vietnam. Easy to determine–it’s right on the label. Maybe its just as good, but my 11-year-old daughter caught a 17″ smallmouth bass this morning and we are going to try your recipe with that. Can’t wait. I know it’s going to be great.

    1. As always, your recipe was a hit. I added some extra garlic cloves to make sure there were plenty to go around. I think this is the perfect preparation for a bass. As you know, they like warm water and love swimming in the weeds. So what could be better than simmering in a hot pan on a bed of cilantro . . . Thanks Tori. Love your website.

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