Moroccan Baked Fish

Delight your taste buds with Moroccan Baked Fish, a harmonious fusion of tender fish fillets, and a rich, flavorful tomato and red pepper sauce infused with the warmth of North African flavors. The marriage of cumin, smoked paprika, and a touch of harissa, combined with the briny burst of preserved lemons and salty olives, creates a symphony of vibrant tastes!

Any wild-caught fillets of ideally firm fish works well in this dish – cod, salmon, snapper, Chilean sea bass, grouper, or mahi-mahi. The fish is coated in a blend of extra virgin olive oil, salt, cumin, smoked paprika, and a hint of optional chili flakes. These carefully seasoned fish fillets are then pan-seared to perfection, achieving a golden brown crust that seals in the flavors.

But what truly elevates this dish is the luscious and veggie-packed chunky tomato sauce. A medley of cherry tomatoes, diced onions, thinly sliced red bell peppers, and garlic, all bathed in the aromatic embrace of cumin and smoked paprika. The addition of wine, harissa, green olives, and preserved lemon brings a delightful complexity to the sauce, creating a tantalizing symphony of tastes that dance on your palate. The perfect touch is a sprinkle of cilantro and a squeeze of lime before serving with crusty toasted bread or a fresh batch of rice.

Moroccan Baked Fish Ingredients:

  • Fillets of firm fish: Cod, salmon, snapper, Chilean sea bass, grouper, or mahi-mahi all work great for this recipe; just make sure the fillets are fresh and the skin is removed.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: Always use high-quality single-origin cold-pressed.
  • Salt: Kosher or sea salt are my go-to choices.
  • Cumin: Ground cumin adds a slightly sweet, warming flavor with a nutty element.
  • Smoked paprika: Adds to the beautiful color and imparts a round, smoky, woodsy, spicy flavor.
  • Chili flakes: Optional but great for an extra kick.
  • Cherry tomatoes: The perfect variety for a fresh and simple tomato sauce with a sweet, juicy flavor that bursts, and the skins become soft and melt into the sauce.
  • Onion: Any variety, whether white, yellow, or red, will work for a delicious oniony flavor.
  • Red bell peppers: Either yellow or orange would work great; I just suggest avoiding green bell peppers.
  • Garlic cloves: Whole is best and easiest as they just simmer in the sauce, becoming soft enough to mash and stir into the sauce.
  • Harissa: A North African red chili paste that adds a huge depth of flavor and body to the sauce.
  • Wine: Optional; water or broth can be used as alternatives. Just some liquid to help get the sauce going and keep the pan deglazed, preserving the flavor in the sauce.
  • Green olives: A great burst of color and a salty, chewy bite.
  • Preserved lemon: Just the skins, very finely diced for a little burst of briny flavor throughout bites.
  • Cilantro: Fresh herb flavor to top the dish and bring it back to life!
  • Lime: A fresh citrus touch that complements everything.
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Moroccan Baked Fish


Units Scale

For the fish:

  • 1 lb, 4 fillets of firm fish (such as cod, salmon, snapper, Chilean sea-bass, grouper, or mahi-mahi), skin removed
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)

For the sauce:

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 of a medium/large onion, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup harissa
  • 1/4 cup wine (optional, water or broth can be used as alternatives)
  • 1/2 cup green olives, chopped
  • 1 preserved lemon, flesh removed, skin finely diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Lime (optional)


  1. Pat the fish fillets dry on each side with a paper towel. Massage in about one to two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, along with the salt and spices, until each side of the fish is well coated with the seasoning.
  2. Preheat a skillet over medium heat with another tablespoon or two of olive oil for 1-2 minutes before adding the fish. Sear on both sides until a golden brown crust forms, approximately 2-3 minutes per side.
  3. Remove the fish from the skillet once seared and place it on a plate to rest under a lid while you prepare the sauce.
  4. Lower the heat to medium-low on the skillet and add about 3 tablespoons of olive oil, ensuring the bottom of the pan is coated.
  5. Add the cumin and smoked paprika to the pan with the oil, stirring to warm the spices in the oil, toasting them slightly for about 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Next, add the cherry tomatoes, onion, peppers, garlic, and salt. Stir until everything is well coated in the spices and oil. Cover with a lid and let the vegetables cook for about 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  7. Add the harissa, wine, green olives, and preserved lemon. Stir and cook the sauce for another 10 minutes until all the vegetables are softened.
  8. Return the seared fish to the skillet with the sauce and simmer for a final 5-10 minutes to finish cooking the fish.
  9. Once the dish is ready, top it with a sprinkle of cilantro and a squeeze of lime. Serve by itself or with rice or crusty bread. Enjoy!

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