Moroccan Chermoula Marinade

Chermoula recipe

The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 8 to 10 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
71 Calories
5g Fat
8g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 71
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 238mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Protein 1g
Calcium 41mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Chermoula is a thick marinade for fish and the foundation of many Moroccan and North African fish dishes, such as fried sardines stuffed with chermoula and a fish tagine called mqualli made of layered potatoes, tomatoes, fish, and peppers. Although each country has its version of chermoula—and there are several variations—the taste is always very similar.

In addition to fish, it can also be used to marinate chicken or shellfish; just add extra water to thin it out, leave the meat to marinate for up to a day, and grill or bake to your liking.

This classic chermoula recipe, which is close to relish in texture, is quick and easy to prepare. Adjust the levels of spiciness depending on your preference. Because it yields a good amount (enough to marinate 4 1/2 pounds of fish), you can save some to add to baked potatoes or veggies, or to mix into couscous or rice.

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch cilantro (coriander, only small leaves and small stems, finely chopped)
  • 4 cloves garlic (pressed or finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads (crumbled)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small lemon (juiced)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Chermoula
    The Spruce
  2. Mix all of the ingredients—cilantro, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, ginger and cayenne pepper (if using), saffron threads, oil, and lemon juice—in a bowl.

    Chermoula in bowl
    The Spruce
  3. The chermoula is ready to be used for marinating meats and veggies, dressing potatoes before baking, or mixing into rice, quinoa, or couscous. Enjoy.

Tips

  • Taste and adjust to your liking; whether you want it a bit more citrusy or a touch spicier, it's up to you.

How to Use

Although the suggested use for chermoula is as a relish or marinade for fish, you can play with the flavors of this delicious rub and add it to other preparations:

  • Stuff a whole chicken with pieces of lemon, lime, onion, carrot, and celery coated in the marinade, and put some more chermoula between the skin and the meat of the chicken, adding generous chunks of butter as well. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle salt and pepper before baking.
  • Cook some rice with a tablespoon of chermoula, add grilled skirt steak, and top with fresh cilantro and lime wedges.
  • Cut open a whole fresh baguette, apply a generous layer of chermoula on both sides, and layer on pastrami, arugula, iceberg lettuce, and goat cheese for an innovative hero sandwich. Slice into small pieces as a party appetizer.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of chermoula to 1 cup of full-fat greek yogurt. Mix with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the juice of a lime, and salt and pepper for a veggie-and-chip dip.

How to Store and Freeze

  • The chermoula is best fresh, but it can be stored for later use. If placing in the refrigerator, add a bit of oil to the top before sealing in an airtight container; it will keep for up to three days.
  • You can also freeze the chermoula; spoon it into plastic bags or ice cube trays and store it for about three months.