When Mourad Lahlou first came to the U.S. from Morocco to study economics, he taught himself to cook because he was too broke to eat out. He had never heard of famed Mediterranean-food writer Paula Wolfert until she walked into his first Bay Area restaurant, Kasbah, over 10 years ago. "She knew more about my food than I did," says Lahlou. He then began using her 1973 cookbook, Couscous and Other Good Food From Morocco, to help him make recipes like this spiced shrimp stew; the dish is on his menu at Aziza in San Francisco.
More Hearty Stews
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus whole sprigs for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground ginger
Small pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp—shelled and deveined, tails left on
2 1/4 pounds plum tomatoes—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 large carrots, thinly sliced
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
4 large Red Bliss potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 preserved lemon, peel only, thinly sliced (see Note)
1/2 cup pitted green olives
How to Make It
In a medium bowl, combine the parsley with the chopped cilantro, lemon juice, paprika, ginger, saffron and olive oil. Add the shrimp, toss to coat with the marinade and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the tomatoes with the garlic and cumin and season with salt and pepper. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are broken down and slightly thickened, 10 minutes.
Spread the sliced carrots in a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven and season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the onion, potatoes and bell peppers, lightly seasoning each layer with salt and pepper. Spread the tomato sauce on top. Cover and simmer over moderately low heat until the vegetables are just tender, about 20 minutes.
Add the preserved lemon and olives to the casserole and arrange the shrimp on top in a single layer. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderately low heat until the shrimp are pink and curled, about 3 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a plate. Raise the heat to moderate and cook the tagine uncovered, stirring once or twice, until the juices have evaporated, about 5 minutes; don't let the vegetables burn on the bottom. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and top with the shrimp. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and serve.
Preserved lemons are a Moroccan ingredient made by macerating whole lemons in lemon juice and salt until they're very soft. They're available at specialty food shops and from kalustyans.com.
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