Tunisian Poached Fish with Olives, Preserved Lemons, Capers

Total Time
2 Hrs


This is the ideal recipe for a light yet fulfilling meal and is perfect for all seasons.

Total Time

Prep Time
30 Mins
Cook Time
1 Hr, 30 Mins
Total Time
2 Hrs


400 cal
Total Fat
23 g
Polyunsaturated Fat
7 g
42 mg
725 mg
18 g
Dietary Fiber
4 g
32 g


  • 1 3/4 pounds fresh halibut steak
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 small fresh hot pepper
  • 4 – 6 baby red onions
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, grated
  • 2 medium tomatoes, halved, seeded, and grated
  • 1 head of garlic cloves separated
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 1 cup brine-cured olives, rinsed and drained
  • Flour for dusting
  • 4 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 preserved lemon peel, rinsed, drained, and cut into thin julienne
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped, toasted California walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped celery leaves


  1. Rinse the fish, pat dry with paper towels, and divide into 6 equal pieces. Season each piece with salt, pepper, and ground cumin. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Steam the hot pepper and the baby onions until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Stem, seed and coarsely chop the pepper. Peel the onions.
  3. In a deep-sided medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Add the grated red onion and cook over medium heat, stirring for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the tomatoes and cook until the excess moisture evaporates, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, ground coriander, olives, steamed chopped hot pepper, baby onions, and 1 cup water. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. The sauce should be thin, light, and very hot.
  4. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Dust the seasoned fish with flour and fry, skin side down in the hot oil for 2 minutes or until the skin is crispy. Turn each piece of fish, fry for 1 minute then pour the hot sauce over the fish. Add the cherry tomatoes, capers, and preserved lemon peel and simmer over low heat for 1 more minute. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 15 minutes before serving. The fish will finish cooking in the receding heat.
  5. Garnish with walnuts and chopped celery leaves.