Growing up, we ate cod weekly. It was generously spiced and flaky and delicious. Nowadays, I turn to cod as a healthy base for a delicious meal any night of the week. It’s nearly foolproof to prepare and pairs well with really any flavor combination. I am partial to cooking it with pepper and smoked paprika, probably because I grew up eating it that way. Cumin adds a nice depth to the spices which, when seared, become crisp and aromatic. Paired with tahini cauliflower and chermoula, this seared cod is a winner.

Chermoula is a bright fragrant sauce hailing from North Africa which is generally made of garlic, fresh herbs, lemon, and spices. Though it is traditionally paired with fish, I could pretty much eat it on anything.

Cauliflower, as some may know, has been having a moment for a while now. We have seen it served as a substitute or used as the main event in all sorts of dishes. I remember having smashed cauliflower for the first time at a restaurant in Naples, FL back in 2003 during the height of the Atkins Craze. I personally love simple roasted cauliflower with tahini, so this pureed tahini cauliflower and chermoula is a way to access those flavors with a totally different texture.

Serves 2


for the fish and cauliflower puree 

  • 12-16 ounces of cod
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • 3 cups cauliflower florets, fresh or frozen
  • ¼ cups fresh parsley, leaves and stems
  • 2 tablespoons tahini

for the chermoula

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup parsley leaves and stems, packed
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves and stems, packed
  • ⅓ cup mint leaves 

fish and cauliflower steps

Place the fish skin-side up and gently pat on the paprika, cumin, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt to evenly coat the entire side. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet and add the shallot. Cook for 2 minutes then add the garlic. Add the cauliflower and cook, flipping the florets until they begin to turn golden and brown.

Heat a skillet over high and add the fish, spiced skin side down. Cook for 5-6 minutes then flip. A sign that the fish is done cooking on the first side is when it releases easily and does not stick to the pan. Cook for another 4 minutes on the other side. The fish is done when it begins to flake apart.

Add cauliflower, tahini, and ¼ cup fresh parsley to a food processor and blend until smooth. The consistency will be like that of hummus with specks of parsley evenly throughout. Serve with a generous spoonful (or two!) of chermoula.

chermoula steps

Place the coriander and cumin seeds in a saucepan and toast for 7-10 minutes until nutty and fragrant. Crush or add to a spice grinder. Add the toasted seeds, garlic cloves, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, smoked paprika, kosher salt, and crushed red pepper to a food processor or blender. Blend for a few minutes until evenly combined. Add the parsley, cilantro, and mint and process until smooth. Chermoula will last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.