saffron sea bass tagine with potatoes and peppersThis is one of the traditional oven-baked tagines, which are incredibly simple and satisfying. Versatile in nature, this dish can be altered to accommodate any selection of vegetables, such as leeks, courgettes, Swiss chard, broad beans, and fennel.
- a pinch of saffron threads
- 150 ml of warm water
- 900 g new potatoes, peeled and sliced
- 4 large tomatoes, sliced (reserve a few slices to top the fish)
- 4–6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 2 green peppers, deseeded and cut into long strips (reserve a few strips to top the fish)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- freshly squeezed juice of 2 lemons
- 1 sea bass (roughly 1.25 kg), gutted and thoroughly cleaned
- the rind of a small preserved lemon, or half a large one, cut into fine strips
- 2 tablespoons green olives, stoned and sliced
- a small bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
METHODPreheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.
First, prepare the saffron. Dry roast the threads in a small heavy-based frying pan for less than 1 minute, until they emit a faint aroma. Using a mortar and pestle, grind them to a powder and stir in the water until the saffron dissolves.
Line the base of an oven tagine, or an ovenproof dish, with a layer of potatoes, topped with a layer of sliced tomatoes. Scatter the garlic over the top, season with a little salt and pepper and arrange the peppers over the top. Pour half the prepared saffron, half the olive oil and half the lemon juice over the layers, cover and place it in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, until the potatoes and peppers are tender but not soft.
Rub the sea bass with a little salt and place it on top of the peppers. Mark the topside of the fish with 2–3 gashes and pour the rest of the prepared saffron, olive oil and lemon juice over it. Arrange the reserved tomato and pepper slices over the top and scatter the preserved lemon and olives over and around the fish. Cover the tagine and return to the oven for another 25 minutes, until the fish is just cooked. Remove the lid and return the fish to the oven for a final 10 minutes. Scatter the coriander over the top and serve with crusty bread or Plain, Buttery Couscous.