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Sephardi Hot Spiced Fish

Sephardi spiced hot fish jewish cooking

I watched this Sephardi spiced fish recipe lovingly prepared in a warm Fez kitchen. It explodes with flavor, showing the Sephardis’ creativity in combining fruit, vegetables, and spices to enhance the flavor of the fish. Ask your fishmonger to prepare the fish for you by gutting it, scraping off all the scales, and removing the large backbone. Removing the head is optional

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  • Cook Time
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  • 4-6 ServingsServings


For the fish

  • 1 red pepper, roughly chopped (seeds and membrane removed)
  • 1 yellow pepper, roughly chopped (seeds and membrane removed)
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 large plump fennel bulbs, roughly chopped
  • 1 lemon, roughly chopped
  • 1 small orange, roughly chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 x 3-lb whole fish, such as line-caught sea bass or bream
  • 1 preserved lemon, finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup vegetable stock or white wine

For the Chermoula rub and filling

  • 11⁄2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 11⁄2 cups fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely crushed
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 11⁄2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • a pinch of saffron strands
  • juice of 1⁄2 lemon
  • 1⁄3 cup olive oil
  • 1⁄4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 preserved lemon, finely chopped


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the vegetables and fruit in a large ovenproof dish or roasting pan lined with aluminum foil. Add the bay leaves and cinnamon and place the fish on top. Slash both sides of the fish with a sharp knife ready for the marinade.

Combine the ingredients for the Chermoula rub in a large bowl and mix well together.  Divide the mixture into two. Add the finely chopped preserved lemon to one bowl and mix well. Using your hands, stuff this mixture into the cavity of the fish.

Take the second half of the mixture and spread it over the fish, rubbing it into the slits with your fingers. Pour over the vegetable stock or wine, cover with foil, and bake in the oven for about 30–40 minutes or until the fish flakes easily when poked with a fork.

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