A white fish recipe is yet another of the traditional Moroccan-Jewish recipes created for the post-Passover, post-Pesach Moroccan-Jewish festival of Mimouna (also spelled: Mimuna, Mimounah, Mimunah, Maimouna, and Maimounah). In particular, Jews in Morocco or Jews whose ancestors come from Morocco will use a baked white fish recipe complete with garlic, tomatoes, bell peppers, saffron, parsley and lemons to create a healthy dish that is a characteristic of many Moroccan-Jewish dishes.

Moroccan-Jewish fish recipes abound since fish is one of the symbolic foods of the Mimouna festival. Fish in the Mimouna festival represents the fish that dwelt in the "Red Sea". So why are fish a part of the Mimouna festival? On the 7th day after the Hebrews left Egypt, they reached the "Red Sea". After G-d instructed Moses to "split" the "Red Sea" by striking his staff on the waters, the Hebrews hurried through the land between the two "walls" of water after they saw they were being pursued by the Egyptian army following their flight from slavery in Egypt. When the Egyptian army followed the Hebrews into the "Red Sea", G-d then commanded Moses to strike the waters again with his staff and the waters came together, drowning the entire Egyptian army and the Hebrews were saved. Since the Mimouna festival takes place following the final day of Passover / Pesach when the aforementioned miracles of the "Red Sea" occurred, it is customary for Moroccan-Jewish families to go out on a picnic near a body of water (preferably the sea if there's one near you!) to recall the miraculous feats that took place at the "Red Sea" and to display fish on the festive table in their homes for the Mimouna festival which serves as a further recollection of the miraculous events that occurred at the "Red Sea".

Moroccan Baked White Fish Recipe

For this recipe, the fish is drizzled with a golden saffron mixture. The fish is also surrounded by slices of lemons, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Serve this dish with steamed couscous.

1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus additional for the baking dish
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 cup boiling water
5-pound (2.27 kilogram) whole trout, rockfish or white fish, cleaned and gutted, head and tail removed if desired
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and minced
4 medium tomatoes, thickly sliced crosswise to form rings
1/2 green bell pepper, cored and thickly sliced crosswise to form rings
3 lemons, scrubbed and sliced crosswise to form circles

Instructions for the Moroccan Baked White Fish recipe:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius or Centigrade).
  2. Lightly oil a glass or earthenware baking dish large enough to accommodate the fish.
  3. Place the saffron in a small bowl, pour the boiling water over the saffron and set aside to steep for a few minutes.
  4. Place the fish in the baking dish.
  5. Stuff the cavity of the fish with about three-quarters of both the parsley and garlic.
  6. Sprinkle the remaining parsley and garlic around the fish and neatly surround the fish with a single layer each of slices of tomato, bell pepper and lemon.
  7. Pour the saffron water over the fish and vegetables.
  8. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of the oil over the fish, then pour the remaining oil over the vegetables surrounding the fish.
  9. Using aluminum foil, loosely cover the head and tail (if you have not removed them) to prevent them from burning.
  10. Roast the fish, uncovered, until the skin is golden and crisp and the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 30 minutes, depending on the size.
  11. Using 2 wide spatulas, carefully transfer the fish to a serving platter.
  12. Using a sharp knife, make a small slice through the skin behind the fin and, using a fork, roll the skin from the fish.
  13. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition Information Per Serving: Calories: 408; Protein: 61 grams; Carbohydrates: 15 grams; Fat: 14 grams; Cholesterol: 105 milligrams; Saturated Fat: 2 grams; Sodium: 255 milligrams; Dietary Fiber: 5 grams.

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