"Zadi, born in Lyon, France to Algerian parents, marries the flavors of North Africa with the precision of Escoffier. For lunch he served a seafood tagine with squid, clams, mussels and dover sole…"
I do different levels of North African cooking: The simple, rustic Berber cooking of my mother's kitchen; my adapted to an American home kitchen preparations; and chef versions. My seafood tagine cooking demo incorporated French chef techniques; that is afterall my training. I started working in France when I was 14 years old. It is in my blood almost as much as my Berber heritage. My impulse in the kitchen, even at home, it to cook like I am in a professional setting.
People have been asking me about tagine cooking vessels for many years. I have always been hesitant about recommending clay tagines for several reasons: concerns about lead. poor quality vessels, and fragility. The only clay tagine I have recommended in the past is a $24 Portuguese one. It's cheap enough to not worry about breaking, can be used on the stove without a diffuser and oven, reliably lead-free and it has a deep base. However, I rarely used it myself at home, certainly never at work, because it was too fragile.
So, when Clay Coyote approached me last year about branding my own line of flameware tagines (and couscous steamers), I was more than happy to finally endorse a tagine without any reservations. Flameware is much more durable than clay and can withold very high temps on the stove top (no diffuser needed), in the oven and over a brazier. I had finally found a tagine that I could use in a professional kitchen.
Emile Henry also makes a flameware tagine. However, the base is much too shallow for versatile tagine cooking. I am aware that some traditional tagines also have small bases. They are designed for specific kinds of tagines with thick, reduced sauces.
The fact of the matter is you can produce the same kind of unctuous sauces in tagines with larger bottoms. Tagines with larger bottoms are simply more versatile. They can be used to prepare tagines that demand larger quanitities of sauce, for example my seafood tagine. Large bottomed tagines can be used as casseroles, cazuelas, tians, omelette tagines and even for baking breads.
Now, back to my seafood tagine recipe. I incorporated bouillabaisse and French chef techniques, while keeping the flavors true to North Africa. I added ingredients in layers and reduced the broth by gently boiling.
Carrots and onions were cut into brunoise and sauteed in olive oil. I added a little harissa and spices to release their fragrance. Then I added fish fumet, followed by the seafood in order of cooking time. I finished with orange zest. Adding ingredients in layers helps create a dish with complex, yet distinct flavors. The elegant tagine.