Hassan M'Souli puts a modern spin on age old Moroccan flavours in his stunning recipe for crusted fish with beetroot cous cous. Argan oil is a nutty-flavoured oil that is produced from the kernels of the argan tree, native to Morocco. Substitute hazelnut or walnut oil.






Skill level

Average: 3.6 (19 votes)


  • 4 x 150 g perch fillets, skin on 
  • 1 tbsp dukkah (see Note)
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped roasted capsicum
  • ¼ preserved lemon, flesh discarded, rind finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp harissa (see Note)
  • 250 g (1 ¼ cups) couscous 
  • 2 tbsp argan, hazelnut or walnut oil
  • ¼ cup mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 35 g (¼ cup) dried cranberries, chopped
  • ½ red grapefruit, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp hazelnuts, toasted, roughly chopped
  • 80 g baby salad leaves (mesclun), torn
  • baby herbs (optional), to serve

Beetroot purée

  • 100 g (⅔ cup) rock salt
  • 4 baby beetroot, trimmed
  • 80 ml (⅔ cup) argan, hazelnut or walnut oil
  • ¼ preserved lemon, flesh discarded, rind chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped

Capsicum coulis

  • 1 red capsicum
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) apple cider or red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tsp brown sugar

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.


Drink 2007 Willespie 'Old School’ Reserve Barrel Fermented Semillon, Margaret River

To make beetroot purée, preheat oven to 180°C. Place rock salt on an oven tray. Wrap each beetroot in foil, place on salt and roast for 50 minutes or until tender. When cool enough to handle, peel and discard skins. Roughly chop flesh of 2 beetroot. Quarter remaining 2 beetroot, set aside and keep warm. Process chopped beetroot with argan oil, preserved lemon, garlic and 1 tsp salt in a food processor until smooth. Set aside.

Meanwhile, to make capsicum coulis, using tongs, place capsicum directly over a gas flame, turning as each side blackens, until blackened all over. Cool slightly, then rub off charred skin. Carefully cut open capsicum and discard seeds. Process with remaining ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Set aside.

Coat each fish fillet with dukkah and place on a plate. Heat oil in a frying pan over high heat. Cook fish, skin-side down for 3 minutes or until golden. Reduce heat to medium, turn fish over and cook for 5 minutes or until just cooked; if the flesh flakes easily with a fork, it is ready. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

Combine roasted capsicum, preserved lemon and harissa in a large bowl, then add couscous, beetroot purée, argan oil, mint, spring onions, cranberries, grapefruit and hazelnuts. Toss to combine.

Divide couscous among plates. Top with salad leaves, fish, beetroot quarters and baby herbs, if using. Serve with capsicum coulis.


•Dukkah is a spice, nut and seed blend. Harissa is a Tunisian chilli paste made from dried chillies and spices. Both are available from Middle Eastern and specialist food shops.
•Baby herbs are from selected greengrocers.


As seen in Feast Magazine, Issue 12, pg94.

Photography by Alan Benson