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The signature flavor of many North African dishes comes from a spicy paste called harissa (hah reh sah), made with peppers, garlic, spices, salt, and olive oil.
This recipe calls for a small amount, which is optional. You can skip it or use paprika instead.
Harissa can be found in well-stocked supermarkets. Or, or make your own harissa using the 10-Minute Harissa recipe below, which makes enough to serve with several meals.
Tunisian Fish Balls
Adapted from The Tagine Deck: 25 Recipes for Slow-Cooked Meals, by Joyce Goldstein
1 1/2 lbs (4 6 oz portions) Alaskan cod
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro*
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground organic cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
Organic extra virgin olive oil
*Or use more of one herb and less of the other, to suit your taste
3 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
14 oz crushed tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1 1/2 cups water or clam broth
Sea salt and organic ground pepper to taste
Chopped parsley for garnish
- Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Fill a small bowl with cold water and set aside.
- Add the parsley, cilantro, onion, garlic, cumin, salt and harissa to a food processor. Pulse 10 times until the onion and garlic are minced and everything is well combined. Break the fish into chunks, and add to the processor. Pulse 10 more times or until the fish is minced.
- Transfer mixture to a large bowl, and stir in the breadcrumbs and egg. Knead with your fingers until the mixture is smooth.
- Keeping your hands moistened with cold water, form the fish paste into balls approximately one inch in diameter. Set the balls on the baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to cook.
- Warm the olive oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven if you have one. Add the garlic, crushed tomatoes, water or broth, and salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to simmer and add the fish balls to the sauce.
- Cover the pan, and cook for 15‒20 minutes, turning the fish balls gently in the sauce midway through, until the fish is just cooked through.
- Garnish with chopped parsley, and serve hot, over rice.
Most harissa recipes use chili peppers. This one uses dried cayenne and paprika so it's a bit easier and less messy.
2 cups canned, fire-roasted red bell peppers, cut into strips
2 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon organic cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon organic paprika
1 teaspoon organic cumin
1 teaspoon ground caraway*
1 teaspoon ground organic coriander
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cloves garlic
- Blend or process all ingredients until nearly puréed. (Increase the cayenne for a spicier harissa, or replace with paprika for a mild one.)