White fish fillets with preserved lemons, and hot, rosy chickpeas

This is a pretty good option for the main course of a Valentine’s dinner – coming up in a couple of days, partly because of the rosy chickpeas (made ‘rosy’ by the rose harissa and tomato paste); but mostly because it is quickly executed, leaving time for ‘relaxing’.

This goes well with quickest-way spinach, or with roasted cauliflower.

As a pud you could indulge in A Chocolate Delice Fit For Cupid, coming up in a couple of days’ time.


Recipe for white fish fillets with preserved lemons and hot, rosy chickpeas

Serves 2


  • 200g/7 oz white fish fillets…cod, sea bass…
  • 2 tbsp plus olive oil
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed with ½ tsp salt
  • 1 onion
  • crushed seeds from two cardamom pods
  • ½ tbsp rose harissa (NB – careful with this, start with a teaspoon, taste and work up)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste, or good tomato ketchup (I use Wilkin & Sons)
  • 2 small preserved lemons, or one large one
  • 1 x 400g/14 oz tin of chickpeas
  • 120 ml/½ cup stock made with boiling water and one chicken or vegetable stock cube
  • 60 ml/¼ cup dry vermouth


  1. Marinate the fish (if it’s frozen, you can do this is it defrosts) in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, the ground cumin and the crushed garlic-and-salt. Using your fingers ensure the fish is well coated in the spiced and garlicked oil.
  2. Put some more oil into a medium sized frying pan and heat gently. Peel and slice the onion, and fry until golden – about ten minutes.
  3. Slice the preserved lemons thinly and cut into bite-sized pieces. Drain the chickpeas.
  4. Add the preserved lemon slices, the cardamom seeds, the tomato paste or ketchup, and the chickpeas.
  5. Then add half the rose harissa…taste. Add more as you think fit.
  6. Pour over the stock and the vermouth and continue to stew gently for a few minutes until the chickpeas soften.
  7. Add the fish fillets to the frying pan, cover, and cook until the fish is cooked through.



Music to cook to

How about Too Many Fish In The Sea, performed by The Marvelettes?

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