Seafood Shakshuka

Seafood Shakshuka
(Caitlin Bensel)

Most people familiar with shakshuka think of eggs as the common denominator, but here I pay tribute to shakshuka made in the style of Egypt’s Mediterranean cities, where seafood and local fish stand in for the eggs. While I do take liberties with the spices I use in this recipe, the method of braising the fish on the stove top in a chunky tomato and pepper sauce is in the spirit of classic shakshuka. Serve it over couscous or Middle Eastern rice pilaf.

Serves 4 to 6
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 8 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 vine-ripened medium tomatoes, diced (3 1/2 cups), or 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Juice of 1/2 large lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 pounds firm white fish fillet, such as halibut or cod, or a combination (thawed, if frozen), cut into large pieces
  • 8 ounces large wild-caught shrimp (thawed, if frozen), peeled and deveined
In a small bowl, mix the coriander, sumac, cumin, dill weed, and turmeric.

In a large pot with a lid, heat 6 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, until very tender and fragrant, 10 to 12 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to make sure the garlic does not burn.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon juice, and water. Season with about 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Stir in half the spice mixture. Bring the chunky sauce to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the tomatoes are very soft and melded with the other vegetables, 15 to 20 minutes.

Pat the fish dry and season well on both sides with salt and black pepper. Apply all of the remaining spice mixture except 1/2 teaspoon to the fish, patting it on both sides. Nestle the seasoned fish pieces in the bubbling shakshuka sauce. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the fish turns white and flakes easily, and is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, pat the shrimp dry and toss with a big pinch of salt and black pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon each) and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon spice mixture. Nestle the shrimp in the shakshuka, cover, and continue to cook over medium-low heat, turning the shrimp as needed so that they turn pink all over, about 3 minutes more. (Remember that the shrimp will continue to cook in the hot sauce even after you remove the pan from the heat, so be careful not to overcook it.)

Spoon the seafood shakshuka into bowls and serve immediately.

Reprinted from “The Mediterranean Dish” copyright 2022 by Suzy Karadsheh. Photographs copyright 2022 by Caitlin Bensel. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.
This article was originally published in American Essence magazine.
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