Lately, there's something about the smoky, spicy North African and Middle Eastern flavors--they're all I want to eat. Continuing the condiment theme, I recently discovered charmoula, a North African herb paste used to marinate meats or fish for the grill. It is often paired with eggplant as well (see here). Like harissa, the recipes vary, but most include cilantro, garlic, cumin, paprika, olive oil and vinegar.
I used a recipe from the Sunday Suppers at Lucques cookbook, which unconventionally uses rice wine vinegar for its "milder, sweeter nuance." I used the charmoula to marinate Santa Barbara sea bass kabobs for the grill--the cookbook recommends at least 4 hours of marinating (leaving out the vinegar and lemon juice so you don't "cook" the fish), but we only had 1/2 hour. Considering how fresh our fish was and that we slathered more of the sauce (now with the acids) before eating, the abridged time wasn't much of a problem.
adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques
2 tbsp. whole cumin seeds, toasted
2 cloves garlic
2 1/2 c. coarsely chopped cilantro
1 c. coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
pinch of salt
3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 1/4 tsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Blitz the first 7 ingredients in the food processor until paste-like. Slowly mix in the olive oil.
If using as a marinade, about 1/2 will work for 2 1/2 lbs of meat. Save the other 1/2 for after the meat has been cooked. Mix the left-over 1/2 with the rice wine vinegar and the lemon juice, and brush over cooked meat.