Marrakesh Fish Steaks Recipe | Cook the Book

Moroccan cuisine is one of the most diverse in the world. Rooted in centuries-old Arab and Berber tradition, it also finds inspiration from nearby France and Spain. Heady blends of spices (such as cinnamon, saffron, and turmeric) complement dishes rich with ingredients such as lamb, dates, figs, walnuts, almonds, and couscous. Methods of preparation vary just as greatly, from slowly cooked tagines to oven-baked flatbreads and hearty meats grilled on small barbecues.

Today's Cook the Book recipe, excerpted from Rick Browne's The Best Barbecue in the World, is for Marrakesh fish steaks. The traditional Moroccan marinade, called sharmula, is made from cilantro, fresh parsley, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, saffron, lemon, and olive oil—a perfect complement to any firm white fish.

Recipe Facts



Total: 0 mins
Serves: 6 servings

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  • 12 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered saffron
  • Juice of 2 large lemons
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 6 (6-ounce halibut steaks, or striped bass, bream, or flounder
  • Chopped cilantro, for garnish


  1. In a food processor, combine the garlic, salt, cilantro, parsley, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, saffron, lemon juice, and olive oil. Process until smooth. Place the fish steaks in a wide, flat pan and add the marinade. Refrigerate for several hours, turning occasionally.

  2. Preheat a gas grill to 375oF or use a charcoal grill. Make sure the grill rack is clean and oil it thoroughly with nonstick cooking spray.

  3. Remove the fish from the marinade and drain, wiping away the excess marinade. Transfer to a large plate and let it stand to come to room temperature, about 20 minutes. Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and boil for 12 minutes.

  4. Transfer the fish to the preheated grill rack over direct heat. For each half-inch thickness of the steak, cook four minutes, tuning the fish halfway through, until it’s just beginning to brown on the edges and flake. Baste with the marinade several times as it cooks, and when done serve immediately, garnished with additional cilantro.