These small fish cakes are full of flavors from Morocco and the North African coast. Harissa is a hot, fiery spice paste used across the Middle East. Preserved lemon is another ingredient that crops up in Moroccan cuisine, and it is easy to make yourself. An added bonus is that storing it under oil infuses that oil with a lemon flavor.
– 1 tbsp olive oil.
– 1 garlic clove, finely chopped.
– 1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed.
– 1 tsp paprika.
– 1lb (450g) firm white fish fillets (such as hake, snapper, sea bream (porgy), or cod), skin and bones removed.
– rind of ½ preserved lemon, any white pith removed and rind finely diced (see below).
– 4 scallions (green onions), thinly sliced.
– ½ bunch of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped.
– 2 tsp harissa sauce (available in cans or jars in Middle Eastern markets).
– 1 egg.
– juice of ½ lemon.
– vegetable oil for frying.
– salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Step 2: 2Put the fish in a food processor with the aromatic cooked spice mixture, the preserved lemon rind, scallions, and cilantro. Add in the harissa and egg, and season with salt and pepper. Add half of the lemon juice and process until smooth.
Step 3: 3Heat the vegetable oil in large frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook a small piece of the mixture and taste to check the seasoning. Adjust with salt and pepper, and an extra squeeze of fresh lemon juice if needed. Roll the fish cakes into 16 equal portions. Cook in small batches until golden brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels.
Step 4: 4Serve with a cucumber salad dressed with ground cinnamon and a little orange juice, or as a canapé with drinks before a meal.
Note : Preserved lemons Place 2 lemons in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Cover with cold water. Add 3 heaping tablespoons sea salt (the salt removes the bitterness from the skin). Bring the water to a boil, and simmer for 10–12 minutes or until the lemons are soft when pierced with the tip of a knife. Remove with a slotted spoon and refresh under cold running water. When cool, cut in half. Using a sharp knife, remove all the flesh and white pith. Trim down the lemon skin from the inside, so only the lemon zest remains. Cover the lemon zest with olive oil and you have preserved lemon; it keeps covered in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.