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  • 1 1/4 cups finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Recipe Preparation

  • Stir cumin in small skillet over medium heat until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to mortar. Add garlic; pound with pestle until paste forms. Transfer to bowl. Mix in cilantro and next 4 ingredients. Stir in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

,Photos by Victoria PearsonReviews Section

Skillet Chermoula Chicken

Elise founded Simply Recipes in 2003 and led the site until 2019. She has an MA in Food Research from Stanford University.

Are you familiar with Chermoula? It's the Moroccan answer to pesto—a spicy herb sauce often used in North African cuisine.

Although chermoula is most often paired with fish, it's excellent with chicken! Chicken thighs hold their own with this flavorful rub made with parsley, cilantro, garlic, cumin, coriander, lemon, and olive oil.

This recipe is an easy one-skillet dish, perfect for a midweek meal. First we brown the thighs on the stovetop, then we slather the thighs with chermoula sauce and pop them in the oven to finish. A cast iron pan works well for this because it easily goes from stovetop to oven.

Given its North African flavors, my favorite way to serve this chermoula chicken is on a bed of couscous. I hope you give it a try!

Charmoula Herb Paste Recipe




  • ▢ 2 large lemons
  • ▢ ¾ cup olive oil
  • ▢ 1 cup cilantro leaves and flat leaf parsley, de-veined and lightly packed
  • ▢ 6 cloves crushed garlic
  • ▢ 1 teaspoon ras el hanout
  • ▢ ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ▢ ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper


Give a man food, and he can eat for a day. Give a man a job, and he can only eat for 30 minutes on break.

Related articles

Published On: 4/25/2012 Last Modified: 4/14/2021

Chermoula marinade

Chermoula is the main marinade used in Moroccan cooking. A complex and exotic mix of fragrant spices and herbs, it adds an instant kick to beef, chicken or seafood. Chef Hassan M’Souli, from Out of Africa restaurant, shares his recipe.


Skill level


  • 1 tbsp dried crushed chilli
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • ½ tsp saffron threads
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander (cilantro)
  • ½ preserved lemon, thinly sliced
  • 125 ml (½ cup) olive oil
  • ½ lemon, juiced

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Standing time 30 minutes

This recipe will make 3 cups. The chermoula can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Combine all the ingredients thoroughly, then stand for 30 minutes to allow the flavours to develop. Serve alongside or stirred through beef, chicken or seafood dishes.

Grilled Swordfish with Hazelnut Miso Sauce

If you&rsquore freaking out about grilling fish, let me start with a little assurance: Swordfish is a sturdy meaty fish that won&rsquot flake out on the grill. In fact, it kind of reminds me of chicken breasts. Plus, swordfish steaks (how they&rsquore commonly sold) don&rsquot have a delicate skin&mdashthe usual sticky culprit. All you need is a hot grill, a sturdy spatula, and some confidence.

These swordfish steaks, shallots, and radishes are simply seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper. After a quick-ish grill, they are dressed with a nutty, salty, sweet, and umami-packed hazelnut miso sauce. Peanuts, pecans, or cashews would be great substitutes for the hazelnuts. Just make sure that they&rsquore unsalted. Miso is plenty salty&mdashwe are using shiro miso (AKA white miso) here. Compared to other types of miso, it&rsquos less salty, sweeter, and mellower. If grilling outdoors and the veg is teeny tiny, you may need a grill grid to prevent them from falling between the grill grates. A tip: If you plan to grill outdoors, lug all the ingredients and tools you need on a large sheet pan in one go. Even the sauce can be made on the grill. It&rsquoll cut back on the number of trips you take in and out. Of course, unless you&rsquore trying to log more steps in your day.

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Use to marinate meats, poultry, fish, and vegetables before grilling or roasting. Serve extra on the side.

Baked mackerel in charmoula

Even out of the water they have a commanding presence. Their skin is shiny silver and midnight blue, and their eyes are hard as garnets. These are wild fish fresh from the ocean, and it shows even trapped in their plastic trays, their bodies flex as if interrupted in mid-swim.

Their flavor is equally remarkable, rich and full in a way you might have forgotten fish could be. Indeed, around the world there are cults of diners devoted to their appreciation.

Yet these are not high-priced appellation-labeled salmon (in fact, they are quite likely to be used as salmon bait). They are mackerel, one of the unsung stars of the sea. And they can be had for a pittance -- seafood-wise -- all over Southern California.

Especially at this time of year, America should be paying close attention. Mackerel is a fatty fish with very moist flesh, so it takes particularly well to the grill. Salt it and rub it lightly with oil, and you’re ready to go. If you want to get a little fancy, marinate it first with lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and a pinch of dried thyme leaves for an hour. This is about as good as summer grilling gets.

But with a fish this fully flavored, there are all kinds of other options. Though mackerel shares a common ancestry with tuna, it is probably closer in flavor to fresh sardines, particularly in the texture of the flesh (even better -- there is certainly a lot more of it).

As this should tell you, mackerel is a fish that does best in boisterous company. It is made not for nuance but for big tastes. Forget shallots and cream mackerel is all about capers, garlic and lemon -- lots of lemon.

In Japanese restaurants, mackerel is most often served simply grilled and accompanied by some sharp, grated fresh radish. It can also be salted or vinegared and is frequently broiled after being marinated in miso paste.

Another classic treatment is the French appetizer maquereaux au vin blanc, mackerel fillets pickled in a court bouillon made with white wine and basically whatever seasonings happen to be on hand. Exact recipes vary widely. Still, two great food writers recommend it as among their favorite dishes. Jane Grigson particularly liked it served with butter and whole-wheat bread. Elizabeth David served it with a sauce made by stirring together the slightly jellied pickling liquid with capers, snipped chives and freshly squeezed lemon. This is wonderful served with a salad of slightly bitter greens and a crisp, tart white wine.

Mackerel also does well when bathed in charmoula, the forceful Moroccan herb paste. Made with parsley and cilantro, garlic and green onions, even paprika and cumin, this would overwhelm most fish but not our intrepid mackerel. Bake it on a bed of sliced onions, and the fish comes out aromatic and almost meaty. You could add green peppers to the onions, and maybe some chopped tomatoes or how about green olives?

Sometimes the greatest complexity can come from the simplest of combinations. Cut a couple of slices in each side of a whole mackerel, going mostly but not completely through the flesh. Slip a sliver of fresh bay leaf in each slice. Lay the fish on a bed of thinly sliced lemons. Wrap it in aluminum foil and bake it. You won’t believe the depth of aroma and flavor from such a simple preparation.

However you prepare it, be extra picky when selecting mackerel. These are high-energy fish with oily flesh, so they spoil very quickly. This is one reason fillets are frequently sold frozen.

When buying whole mackerel, look carefully at the eyes to make sure they are bright and clear. The flesh should be firm, without any bumps or bruises. If the meat holds a dent when you give it a gentle squeeze, pass it by. The color of the skin should be bright and vivid, but don’t set too much store by the color of the meat itself. Mackerel tends toward a grayish cast to the flesh. Don’t worry, it will turn creamy tan when cooked. Similarly, the meat can seem soft and almost mealy when raw, but it firms up during cooking.

Furthermore, mackerel is one of the few fish still commonly sold “in the round” -- a seafood term that means it hasn’t been gutted. This is simple to do, and if you need detailed instructions, stop by your neighborhood fishing pier some evening. When you’re cleaning mackerel, do take the extra step to remove the little fin right behind the gills and the structure that anchors it to the body -- though small, this is a mess of bones and cartilage that you won’t want to force on your guests.

The best place to find mackerel is at a Japanese market (unless, of course, you have a boat -- they’re plentiful off the coast). Shopping for them can be confusing, because mackerel is not just a single fish but an entire family. For the sake of clarity (and because this is how you’re most likely to find them labeled), their Japanese names are the best to use.

There is aji, Trachurus japonicus, usually labeled Spanish mackerel, though it is more accurately a jack mackerel (“Spanish mackerel” is one of those names that, like red snapper, has become attached to a wide variety of fish true Spanish mackerel is Scomberomorus maculatus, and it is caught only on the East Coast). Aji is a full-bodied fish with a telltale line of hard, sharp scales leading to the tail. For most of the year, it is the king of the mackerels, with moist flesh and a flavor that is almost mild (well, for a mackerel). This is the mackerel you will usually use for whole-fish preparations.

There is saba, usually Scomber japonicus or Scomber scombrus, commonly called Atlantic mackerel (most of what you’ll find in the market comes from Norway). These are almost always sold in fillets and usually frozen. Handled carefully, they are still very good.

And then there is sanma, the torpedo-shaped Cololabis saira, sometimes called saury or saury pike. This is the most distinctive of the mackerel, with a thick strip of dark, fatty meat running down each side that has a texture almost like marine foie gras. In Japan, they say these fish are particularly fatty and delicious in the fall, after they’ve spent the summer building up their winter reserves. Sanma is best reserved for simple grilling or broiling so as not to overshadow this unusual property.

In its season, which usually runs from October to April, you can also find sawara, Scomberomorus niphonius, called Japanese Spanish mackerel. It is by far the most delicate of the mackerels.

Aji and sanma are small fish, about half a pound each -- one fish makes a good serving. Saba are a little bigger -- between 1 and 2 pounds each -- but since they’re always filleted, you might not notice. Sawara are quite a bit bigger, weighing up to 15 pounds. These are all distinctly different from the king mackerel that is caught off the East Coast, which can be as big as 100 pounds.

Mackerel are so plentiful in the ocean that we tend to take them for granted. In this country, they are almost nonexistent in most fish markets, aside from those catering to a Japanese American clientele.

This is by no means the case in the rest of the world, where the fish is far more likely to get its just renown. There are festivals to celebrate the mackerel in Rosses Point on Ireland’s northwest coast, and France’s Trouville-sur-Mer in Normandy. And Japan has its own festival in Matsuura, near Nagasaki, which bills itself as the mackerel capital of the world.

At one time, that was an honor that could have been claimed by Southern California, had anyone cared to do it. In the early 1980s, mackerel landings totaled as much as 35,000 tons a year here more than 20,000 tons were caught in 2000. Now the catch is on the wane, part of what seems to be a cyclical fluctuation as the sardine population increases. Still, there were 4,000 tons taken in 2003, the last year for which statistics are available.

Most of these are the extremely edible Scomber japonicus (saba) and Trachurus symmetricus (a kind of jack mackerel similar to aji). But because they are so underappreciated on these shores, most of them will be shipped overseas.

That’s too bad, really, because our local mackerels deserve a place of honor in their own home.

Traditional Chermoula Ingredients

  • Fresh Parsley. Flat-leaf Italian parsley works best.
  • Fresh Cilantro.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Use good-quality olive oil for the best results and health benefits.
  • Lemon juice. Can be substituted with lime juice, if preferred.
  • Garlic. Avoid garlic that comes from China, here is more info: Identify Chinese-Grown Garlic
  • Ground spices. Cumin, coriander, and paprika.
  • Salt.

You might already have paprika on hand, but I am not so sure about the latter two. You can easily find ground cumin in most grocery stores, and ground coriander can be found in larger grocery stores and in Indian stores. If you don't feel like browsing the stores and looking for these spices, here are some Amazon links for you: ground coriander, ground cumin, paprika.

Snapped Asparagus with Charmoula

Tara Duggan and Rachel Levin’s new book, STEAMED: A Catharsis Cookbook for Getting Dinner and Your Feelings on the Table, is a humorous take on all the emotions we bring to the kitchen, especially after a long day spent working during quarantine. As such, they note that the book is “dedicated to everyone who cooked their way through 2020 — and beyond,” and when it comes to this recipe “snapping the ends off of asparagus spears is one of the more mindless, meditative tasks in the kitchen. But listen closely and the snap itself brings a perverse satisfaction of its own. (Is it an asparagus stalk or your obnoxiously loud neighbor’s neck? You decide.)”

  • Author: Tara Duggan and Rachel Levin
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: vegetables
  • Method: roast
  • Cuisine: California


1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive

oil, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons as needed

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound)

1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil



Place the garlic in a food processor and process until chopped. Add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and pulse to combine. Add the parsley and cilantro leaves and process until finely pureed. Slowly add the 1/3 cup of olive oil and then the lemon juice. Season to taste with more salt, spices, and/or lemon juice you can also add another 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil to balance the flavors.


Hold an asparagus stalk in your nondominant hand with the bottom facing out. Grasp the end and snap where it bends naturally to remove the woody end. Continue with the remaining asparagus.

Place the asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with the oil, and sprinkle with salt. Rotate the asparagus to coat in the oil. Roast in the hottest part of the oven until the tips are crispy and the thick part of the stalk is cooked through when poked with a knifethe time ranges from 15 minutes for pencil-thin asparagus to 20 to 25 minutes for superthick ones. Turn once during cooking.

Serve the asparagus right away on a platter, drizzled with the chermoula.

Notes about this recipe

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Watch the video: Recette charmoula sfaxienne (January 2022).