Prawn-Stuffed Spicy Fish with Vermicelli

This is my version of a wonderful dish I saw being made in a restaurant run by a woman in Marrakesh. It's impressive, tasty, and perfect for a dinner party. You can use any fish with a large cavity as long as it's fresh and in season. Although I used one large fish in Morocco, it's not always that easy to get your hands on one that size, so I've given you a recipe for two smaller ones here. If you are able to get a lovely big fish, like bass, snapper, or barramundi, this dish will be a triumph. Just turn the heat down to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C/gas 4 and cook until the meat flakes off the bone.

TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 25 min
Prep: 30 min
Inactive Prep: 20 min
Cook: 35 min
 
YIELD: 2 servings
LEVEL: Intermediate

ingredients

  • 3 1/2 ounces/100 g vermicelli
  • 2 courgettes ( zucchini)
  • 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • A small bunch fresh coriander ( cilantro), roughly chopped
  • 1 small preserved lemon, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons harissa
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, plus a little extra
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger, plus a little extra
  • A pinch of ground cumin, plus a little extra
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (11-ounce/300 g) dorade, or other large fish such as sea bass, snapper, or cod, scaled, fins cut off, cavity cut open and cleaned
  • Olive oil
  • A large handful small raw peeled prawns
  • Serving suggestion: Crisp, dressed green salad.
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Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C/gas 6. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil, add the vermicelli, and cook for slightly less time than it says on the packet. You want it to be al dente. Once ready, drain, rinse in coldwater and leave to cool. Put it into a large bowl and grate in your courgettes (zucchini). Add the chopped tomatoes, coriander (cilantro), preserved lemon, 1 teaspoon harissa, sweet paprika, ground ginger, and cumin. Mix it all together really well with your clean hands, then have a taste, add a pinch of salt and pepper if needed, and put aside.

Place the fish on a large chopping board and score the skin every 3/4-inch/2 cm on both sides at a slight angle, using a sharp knife. Sprinkle over a little salt, a small pinch of cumin, and a pinch each of sweet paprika and ground ginger. Mix the remaining 1 teaspoon harissa with 1 teaspoon olive oil and rub 1/2 of it into the fish, making sure it gets into the cuts you've made. Turn the fish over and repeat on the other side.

Spoon 2/3 of the vermicelli filling into a large baking tray or earthenware-type dish, making a bed for the fish; gently place the fish on top. Stir your prawns into the rest of the vermicelli filling and spoon this into the cavity of the fish, pushing it right in-don't worry if it spills out a little. Drizzle over a little olive oil, and roast in the hot oven for around 25 minutes, until the fish is crisp on the outside and cooked through.

To serve, pull the meat off and pick the bones out. Add a spoonful of the vermicelli filling on the side of each plate and serve with a crisp, dressed green salad.

Notes

Any leftover vermicelli will be delicious the next day as a cold salad.

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