Saturday, December 13, 2014

Chermoula-Marinated Tuna with Pomegranate (Pearled) Couscous: A Moroccan-Inspired Meal

Pretty, festive, easy enough for a weekday dinner, but special enough to serve to company--this Chermoula-Marinated Tuna with Pomegranate Couscous from Diana Henry is full of wonderful and exotic flavors. 

It's our monthly Mystery Box Madness challenge this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs, where our selected recipe needs to contain at least three out of ten ingredients: Chocolate, Cherries, Cinnamon, Rolled Oats, Couscous, Pomegranate, Curry, Coconut Milk, Lentils, and Hot Peppers/Chilis. This dish contains four of the ten--cinnamon, red chili, couscous and pomegranate. 

Henry says, "Definitely a dish for cilantro-lovers Chermoula is one of the most well-used Moroccan herb and spice blends. Chermoula actually means "to tear lightly"--but that doesn't stop cooks from making it in the blender.

Chermoula-Marinated Tuna with Pomegranate Couscous 
Adapted From Crazy Water Pickled Lemon by Diana Henry
(Serves 4)

4 thick tuna loin steaks
salt and pepper
extra-virgin olive oil and lime wedges to serve

For the Marinade:
6 Tbsp olive oil
3 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 medium red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
zest and juice of 1 lime
2 garlic cloves, crushed
leaves of a small bunch of cilantro and a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped 

For the Couscous:
7 oz couscous (I used pearled or Israeli couscous)
2/3 cup water
3 Tbsp olive oil (Reduced to 1 Tbsp)
2 pomegranates
1 oz pine nuts, toasted
3 Tbsp each chopped flat-leaf parsley and mint (I added cilantro)
lemon juice to taste

Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Turn the tuna steaks over in the marinade to get them well-coated. Refrigerate for about half an hour.

Sprinkle the couscous in a shallow dish and add half the water. Let the couscous plump up for about 15 minutes, then fork it through to separate the grains. Repeat with the rest of the water. Stir in the olive oil and salt and pepper. 

Halve the pomegranates and, holding each half over a bowl, beat the fruit with a wooden spoon. The seeds should just spill out. Remove any coarse bits of yellow membrane still attached to them. 

Put the couscous on to steam for about 10 minutes and, meanwhile, sear the tuna steaks. Heat a griddle until it is smoking hot and then cook the steaks  quickly for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness. (I serve tuna cooked on the outside and raw as a rare steak on the inside.)

Mix the steamed couscous with the pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, herbs, and lemon juice, and check the seasoning. Add a squeeze more lemon if you think the dish needs it. Put a mound of couscous on each plate and serve the tuna steaks on top, drizzled with any remaining marinade and a last slug of extra-virgin olive oil. Serve with wedges of lime. 

Notes/Results: This was such a great dish--so much flavor in the sauce and the accompanying couscous. You definitely want to be a cilantro lover for this one--it is very prominent in the Chermoula marinade. I am a big fan, so I also chopped some up in the couscous as well. Speaking of the couscous, I knew I had some in the pantry but forgot it was the larger pearled or Israeli couscous so I went ahead and used it. I actually like it better than regular couscous anyway, and it adds a fun texture to the dish. I loved the mix of the herbs, tangy-sweet pomegranate and toasty pine nuts accented by the lemon in the couscous and it went really well with the sauce which is full of savory, sweet, herby and slightly spicy notes that compliments the ahi tuna I used. I like my tuna pretty rare on the inside--the best way to eat good ahi, but might give it another 30 seconds per side to serve to others who may not like it as 'raw.' This is really an easy and quick (after the marinating the tuna) dish that looks and tastes like it took more of an effort. (BTW--I was lazy and used the blender for my marinade--probably not as pretty but faster than all that chopping.) I only made a half recipe and was sorry I didn't make more. ;-) Loved it and will make it again--one of my favorite Dina Henry dishes so far.

This post will be linked up to this coming week's Mystery Box Madness Challenge at IHCC. You'll be able to see what mystery ingredients and recipes people chose by checking out the picture links on the post.



  1. A lovely dish, Deb! I like the use of the ruby pomegranate in the couscous! I love cilantro, so I would definitely like the chermoula! It sounds really good served over the tuna. A delicious choice for this months MBM!

  2. That looks great! I love pomegranate arils - they make everything look so festive.

  3. Wow this is s pretty dish,nicely done.

  4. Thanks Meridith! I like how it turned out too. ;-)

  5. Yes, they really do make things look pretty and holiday-like Alicia!

  6. Thanks Kat! ;-)

  7. It is a really yummy sauce Joyce--especially for us cilantro lovers! ;-)

  8. That does look very festive! I love chermoula on fish but have never made it with cinnamon - sounds like a nice touch!

  9. I had not tried it with cinnamon either Zosia but it added a nice touch. That Diana Henry is a smart one. ;-)

  10. Grace-Life can be simpleDecember 17, 2014 at 4:05 PM

    Deb, I absolutely adore the textures and colours on your plate. I'm imagining how tasty and yummy the tuna must be. I love it!!

  11. Thanks Grace! It was so good I am still thinking about it. ;-)

  12. How beautifully colorful that couscous is. Love how they all went together.


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