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North-African Style Spicy Fish

North-African Style Spicy Fish Related:   Africa, fish, gluten-free, Israel & Middle East, Passover, Shabbat

Prep time: 10 minutes plus resting time

Cook time: 12 minutes plus 10 minutes cooling time

Yield: 4 servings

Jewish communities across North Africa—in Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia—had regionally influenced variations of white fish poached in a spicy red sauce. Versions of this dish were served at Shabbat dinners, and today it’s enjoyed across Israel. This boldly-flavored rendition comes together easily and can be an appetizer or main dish.


  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh red chiles or 1–2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, minced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup water
  • 4 firm white fish fillets, such as halibut or cod
  • Chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish, optional


  • In a deep-sided pot or skillet over medium heat, warm a thin layer of oil. Add the garlic, chiles and paprika, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the lemon juice, tomato paste and salt and pepper to taste. Add the water and bring to a boil.
  • Gently add fish, turn to coat and cover. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, uncover and let cool 10 minutes. Serve, sprinkled with cilantro, if using.
  • Variation Tip: For a thicker sauce, remove the fish when done and boil the sauce for a few minutes to reduce.
  • Excerpt from The Essential Jewish Cookbook, by Marcia A. Friedman, published by Rockridge Press. Copyright © 2021 by Callisto Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

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