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Braised Tunisian-style white fish

Braised Tunisian-style white fish, a lean and flavorful choice for a healthy menu. #glutenfree

Back in November 2006, I first shared this recipe for white fish seasoned with harissa, the fiery pepper paste of North African origin. In need of new photographs, the recipe also benefited from a bit of freshening up. I'd forgotten how easy it is to prepare, and how easily it fits into a low-calorie start to the year.

Use any type of fish you like; white fish is typical, but salmon would be fine, too. Don't be afraid of the harissa; I promise that  it mellows a bit in the cooking of this fish. Not like Donovan mellow, but mellow enough to leave only an interesting tingle in your mouth. Cut the amount of harissa in half, if you are concerned, but don't omit it altogether, as it's the glue that holds this dish together and gives it a North African flair. (Order online if your local market doesn't carry it.) Serve with roasted potatoes and green vegetables on the side.

Use your favorite white fish (mine is cod) for this Tunisian-style white fish with harissa. #glutenfree

Braised Tunisian-style white fish {gluten-free}

From the pantry, you'll need: harissa, olive oil, onion, slow-roasted tomatoes (or sun-dried tomatoes), clam juice, lemon, fresh black pepper, agave nectar, flat-leaf parsley.

Updated from this November, 2006 post. Serves 4.


1-1/2 lb cod, scrod, haddock or other thick white fish fillets, cut into four serving pieces
1 Tbsp harissa
2 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, sliced into rings
4 slow-roasted tomato halves (with thyme and garlic), or sun-dried tomatoes in oil + 2 cloves sliced garlic
1 cup clam juice or white wine
Juice of half a lemon, or more to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Agave nectar (optional)
2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped, for garnish


Preheat oven to 375°F.

Place the fish in a bowl, rub it all over with harissa, and set aside for 20 minutes.

In a large ovenproof frying pan, heat the oil, and add the onion. Sauté briefly over medium heat until onions are just translucent. Add tomato, clam juice and lemon juice, and cook 3-4 minutes until the flavors combine.

Remove from heat, and nestle the fish into the sauce, spooning a bit over the top of the fish. Cover with aluminum foil, and place in the oven for 10 minutes, or until fish is just cooked through (do not overcook). Remove pan from the oven and let sit, covered, for 2-3 minutes.

Season with black pepper to taste, agave nectar (if needed to balance the tartness), and top with parsley.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More fish stews:
Jamaican run down, from The Perfect Pantry
Moqueca (Brazilian fish stew), from The Perfect Pantry
Bouillabaisse, from Just One Cookbook
Tapao de pescado (fish stew), from My Colombian Recipes

Tunisian-style white fish, rubbed before cooking with a bit of harissa paste. Wow!

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Oh wow, this sounds fabulous. And do you believe I have never eaten or cooked with Harissa. I know, I am spice deprived!

Kalyn, let me know if you can't find harissa, and I will send you some. A little goes a long way!

The freezer is my friend for harissa and other specialty ingredients that are perishable. After having harissa in a tube explode, I now empty the container into a glass jar. Same for chipotle in adobo (but they didn't explode).
I like the way this is put together, and see some modifications coming soon. Great flavors!

Susan, I think the flavors here would adapt well to a vegetarian dish. Let me know if you try it.

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