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Moroccan Fish "Meat Balls"

Moroccan Fish Balls

Direct from a Moroccan mama who happens to be my generous landlady, I am sharing with you the secrets to the best Moroccan Fish Balls you will ever have.  The hows and whys; the spicy red paprika infused with oil; the CILANTRO NOT PARSLEY; the amount of garlic cloves so numerous we won’t even bother to count them.

A few notes and tips:

Why soak the fish in lemon?

You know that fishy smell that sometimes lingers even after it has been cooked? The lemon helps get rid of that fishy smell! Thank you, citrus juices.

Why is there a piece of bread in my fluffy fish pillow?

Ever had a hard, dense meatball? Yeah, not so great, and not so fluffy! Fluff is the word here. You want to break into that pillow of flavor and think wow, that is SOFT! When the bread absorbs moisture it will puff up and give you that light texture you’re looking for.

Should I wash my fresh herbs?

YES! Unless it says prewashed on the package. As soon as you get home from the market, take your herbs and put them in a bowl with a couple drops of soap, and cover with water. Let sit for around 3 minutes, rinse and dry. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for UP TO 3 WEEKS. You heard that right! I do this with lettuce and can’t even believe the results. Amazing!

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 8Servings


Fish "Meat Balls"

  • 1 pound Nile Perch fish filets or snapper or grouper, fresh or frozen with skin removed
  • 1 pound Cod fish filets, fresh or frozen with skin removed
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 slice white bread
  • 1 onion, grated
  • Handful fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 4-5 ripe tomatoes, grated in food processor
  • 1 tablespoon Moroccan paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped into larger chunks
  • 1 small cup water
  • Small handful little dried chili peppers, whole
  • Handful cilantro, roughly chopped 


1.  Place fish in a bowl with juice of one lemon. Cover with water and let sit for ½ hour.

2. Drain fish and place in food processor (or use a hand blender) with bread, onion, and parsley.  Pulse until minced and mixed. We are not making baby food- you still want to see flakes of parsley!

3. Add pepper, cumin, salt, and oil, and mix by hand. Set aside.

4. In a wide rimmed pan or shallow pot heat 2 tablespoons evoo, 3 minced garlic cloves, and grated tomatoes. When fragrant, add in paprika*, turmeric*, salt*, and tomato paste. Cook about 15 minutes on medium heat. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil (it should thicken a bit).

5. Turn heat to low, take out your fish mix, and fill a small bowl with water. Wet hands and roll into balls. Place your thumb and pointer finger together-that’s how big the ball should be. Place gently on top of sauce.

6. Sprinkle chilies around the balls and add the 4 garlic cloves. Cover and simmer for 30 Min.

7. Sprinkle cilantro over everything, cover and cook about 20 min, or until the sauce has thickened a bit and is a beautiful red color.

8. Serve this dish on small individual plates next to warm challah on Friday night of Shabbat, and pray for leftovers!

*In place of the paprika, turmeric and salt you can use 2 tablespoons Jamie Geller Chraime spice blend.