Out of Africa chef Hassan M’Souli reveals how to prepare the classic Moroccan dishes of chermoula and tomato salsa. He uses them both in a colourful and flavour-packed baked snapper dish.






Skill level

Average: 3.6 (9 votes)


  • 1½-2 kg
 (3-4 lb) whole snapper, cleaned and scaled
  • 1 cup chermoula marinade
  • 2 sticks celery, sliced on a long angle
  • 2 
small ripe tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and sliced into rings
  • 1 green capsicum (bell pepper), seeded and sliced into rings
  • ¼ preserved lemon, sliced finely
  • 12 green olives
  • tomato salsa and harissa, to serve


  • 1 tbsp
 dried crushed chilli
  • 1 tbsp 
sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp 
ground cumin
  • 1 tsp 
finely chopped ginger
  • ½ tsp 
saffron threads
  • 2 
onions, finely diced
  • 2
 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2
 fresh bay leaves
  • 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

Tomato salsa

  • 4 
ripe tomatoes, blanched, seeded, diced
  • 1
 Lebanese cucumber, seeded, diced
  • ½ 
red onion, diced
  • 1
 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2 tbsp
 chopped coriander (cilantro)
  • 1 tbsp 
olive oil
  • 2 tsp 
lemon juice
  • 1 tsp
 ground cumin
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • 500 g 
(1 lb) small hot red chillies, stalks removed (or use long red chillies for a less fiery result)
  • 2 
large red capsicums (bell peppers), roasted, peeled
  • 1
 preserved lemon
  • 3
 garlic cloves
  • bunch 
coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp
 ground cumin
  • 1 tsp 
  • olive oil, to cover

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.


The following recipe has been tested and edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the podcast.

Marinating time 1 hour

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

To make the tomato salsa, combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the harissa, mince the chillies, roast capsicums, preserved lemon and garlic by hand or in a food processor. Mix with the coriander (cilantro), cumin and salt until well combined. Let the mixture stand for 1 hour, then transfer to a preserving jar and cover with oil. Store indefinitely in the refrigerator.

To prepare the fish, score 3 or 4 diagonal cuts into the thickest part of the fish. Rub two-thirds of the chermoula marinade all over the fish, inside and out. Cover and marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 230°C (450°F/Gas 8). Place sliced celery into the bottom of a large baking tray (or tajine). Lay the fish on the celery, and arrange the tomatoes, onion, capsicum (bell pepper), preserved lemon and olives on top.
Spoon the remaining chermoula marinade over the fish, cover tightly with foil and bake for 15 minutes. 
Reduce the heat to 150°C (300°F/Gas 2), remove foil and bake for a further 15-20 minutes, or until fish is just cooked.
Serve the fish with the tomato salsa and harissa on the side.


Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Michelle Noerianto.