Moroccan Tagine of Shrimp in Tomato Sauce

Moroccan Shrimp in Tomato Sauce. Photo © Christine Benlafquih
    105 min
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A zesty homemade tomato sauce with Moroccan spices forms the base for this flavorful shrimp tagine. The preparation is very similar to that of Tagine of Calamari in Tomato Sauce and Tagine of Mussels in Tomato Sauce.

Note that I like to remove the tails from the shrimp for ease of eating; you may leave the tails on if you prefer. Note also that the prep time will be reduced if you are using shrimp which has already been shelled and cleaned.

Cooking directions call for preparing the sauce and shrimp in a traditional Moroccan tagine. If you don't have one, you may use a deep skillet instead, or you might like to try cooking in a tagra, which can be covered loosely with aluminum foil.

What You'll Need

  • 1 kg (2 lbs. 3 oz.) fresh, large shrimp (yields 500 g or 17 oz. shelled and cleaned)
  • 1 kg (2 lbs. 3 oz.) fresh, ripe tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 7 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • to taste (optional)
  • ------ For Garnish ------
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • coarsely ground black pepper
  • slices or wedges of lemon

How to Make It

Clean the Shrimp

Wash the shrimp under running water and drain. Remove the head, legs and shells (and tails if desired); devein the shrimp if necessary. Wash the shrimp again and set aside in a colander to drain.

Make the Tomato Sauce

Peel, seed and chop the tomatoes. (Or, if the tomatoes are very soft, you can cut them in in half, seed them and grate them.) Set the tomatoes aside.

Place the base of a large tagine over medium-low heat. (The use of a diffuser between the heat source and tagine is recommended.) Add the olive oil and onions and saute gently for several minutes, or until the onions begin to soften. Add the garlic and saute just for a minute or two, until very fragrant. Remember to maintain the low heat, and avoid burning the garlic.

Add the tomatoes, spices and herbs and stir to combine. Cover, and allow the tagine to slowly reach a simmer. Do not increase the heat to speed things up. Continue simmering the tomatoes, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes can be mashed with the back of a spoon and a thick sauce forms.

Cook the Shrimp

Add the cleaned shrimp to the tomato sauce, along with a few tablespoons of water if you feel the sauce should be thinned, and cover. Cook the shrimp for several minutes then stir gently to turn the shrimp over. Continue cooking for several minutes more, until the shrimp are just done. Remove the tagine from the heat.

To Serve

When ready to serve, discard the bay leaf and garnish the tagine with chopped parsley, a few turns of the pepper mill and fresh lemon slices. Wedges of lemon may be offered on the side.

It is customary to serve the shrimp directly from the tagine, with each person eating from his side of the dish. In lieu of a fork, Moroccan bread is used to scoop up the shrimp and sauce.