Moroccan Fish with Chickpeas and Preserved Lemons

I searched for the right words to describe what this Friday night fish is to me, but I decided I won’t find them. I’ve entertained the thought that it’s silly to have a deeply rooted, intense association with food but I’ve dismissed it because it’s not purely a matter of its taste, it’s much bigger than that. Maybe because it’s what my mother made for many Shabbat meals, only alternating with Libyan chraime, which I found too mouth-puckering and tangy for my younger palate. Or maybe it is because this Moroccan Fish has all of my favorite flavors mingling and creating something extraordinary. The pungent peppery taste of the scarlet red paprika, along with cloves of garlic that soften up as they cook and make another excellent topping slathered over challah. The rich sauce over the soft chickpeas that is contrasted by the delicately sharp acidity of the preserved lemons and let’s not forget about the serious heat of the chile peppers. Not optional. Finally, the cilantro gives its fresh, herby flavor and rounds things off perfectly.

It’s all of it. The tradition and the taste and everything I feel about Shabbat in one dish. On some occasions, I will make a different fish for Shabbat, and every time I do, a tinge of regret rears itself because it should have been this. It always needs to be this one. Make it and you’ll see.

Moroccan Fish with Chickpeas and Preserved Lemons


1 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed

2 bell peppers, cored and sliced

6-8 garlic cloves

2 jalapenos or 1 chile pepper

5 dried chili peppers 

6-7 slices preserved lemons

1.5lb (5-6) pieces salmon fillet

½-¾ cup olive oil

2 heaping tablespoons paprika

1.5 teaspoons sea salt

1 bunch cilantro, stemmed and chopped


In a wide pan, place the chickpeas, bell peppers, garlic, jalapenos, dried chile peppers, and preserved lemons. Top with the salmon. In a small bowl, mix the oil, paprika and salt. Brush onto the salmon generously. Pour the rest of the paprika mixture around the fish.

Add 1.5 cups boiling water. Turn the fire to medium high heat and bring to a boil. Baste often. Cover the pan partially and let cook for 8-10 minutes.

Cover completely and reduce to a simmer, cooking for 25-30 minutes. The sauce should be nice and thick. Turn off the fire, and garnish with chopped cilantro.



I've made this with Tuna and Tilapia (not recommended). My mother makes it with Corbina (super recommended) and I think it will fare well with Chilean Sea Bass. I usually stick to Salmon because of the taste and it is easily available.