On the occasion of the "National Day of the Sardine", Minister of Agriculture, Aziz Akhannouch, said that Morocco is in a noble position, vis-a-vis the sardine. However, others claim it is a shame that the everyday fish of coastal folks is a luxury elsewhere in the country
"With nearly 57% of national fish production, Morocco is the world leader in the production of sardines" - Aziz Akhannouch:
The marine fisheries sector has recently undergone major advances especially with the upgrade of a large number of seaports, noted Aziz Akhannouch as part of the first edition of "Day of the Sardine".
President of the Moroccan Association for Consumer Protection, Dr Bouazza Kherrati, claims that in some regions of the country, particularly in the south, sardines can cost as much as 40 dirhams a kilo. He goes on to say that events such as the "Festival of the Sardine" should be held not only in coastal towns but in the interior as well.
Morocco currently has seven wholesale markets, 22 fishing ports, 22 halls for grading industrial fish (CAPI) and well-established fishing villages 40 km apart across the entire coast of Morocco. The Minister, Aziz Akhannouch, remarked that these facilities are effective in improving the productivity and competitiveness of the fishermen. The minister also noted that nearly 50 per cent of the domestic production of sardines has a development plan that provides a sustainability structure by introducing biological rest periods, quotas and areas closed to fishing, to ensure durability and conditions for reproduction.
Sardines have always held a special place in the food habits of Moroccans in terms of their nutritional value and price that remains accessible to all segments of society, Aziz Akhannouch noted, adding that the importance of the Sardine Festival is that it helps promote the characteristics and benefits of sardines.
The vice president of the Association of Owners of fishing port of Al Hoceima, Fikri Ould Chaib, agreed with the Minister and added that this first edition of the "Festival of the Sardine" is an opportunity to showcase the product fishing in the region characterized by a variety and quality that is renowned nationally and internationally.
Calling the meeting successful event Fikri Ould Chaib added that civil society is willing to work in coordination with the supervisory department for the development of the province.
Initiated from August 27 to 31 by the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) in the context of the implementation of the strategy to promote seafood, "Day of the Sardine" is organized simultaneously in five beaches in the Kingdom - Al-Hoceima beach (Quemado) Martil beach, Agadir Beach (Taghazout) Dakhla beach, and Mehdia. This event aims to promote domestic consumption of fresh sardines and its value to the Moroccan public as ` flagship of the national fish production and awareness of the benefits of sardines for health.
As our contribution to "Sardine Day" The View from Fez offers a Moroccan Sardine Recipe - Chermoula Sardines
2 kg fresh sardines, double filleted or "butterflied"
1 cup of Chermoula (see recipe below)
1/2 cup flour
vegetable oil for frying
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes.
Place the sardine fillets skin-side down and spread the chermoula generously over the fish. Some people also place another sardine on top, skin side up. When sardines are all covered in chermoula set them aside to marinate (in the fridge is the best place.
When you are ready to cook, coat the sardines with a sprinkling of flour and cook in vegetable oil in a pan set on medium to high. Do make sure you have enough oil in the pan to cover the entire surface.
Cook in batches until golden (four to five minutes on each side), and then place on paper towels to absorb excess oil before transferring to a serving plate.
Fried stuffed sardines can be served hot or at room temperature
Chermoula can be used as a great dipping sauce for flatbread, but is traditionally used as a marinade. Superb on fish but fine on any other meat - or even vegetarian tagines.
To make one cup:
1 well washed bunch of fresh coriander.
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and squashed.
1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, coriander and paprika.
1 small red chilli (remove the seeds!)
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.
Juice of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup of olive oil.
Blend to a rough textured paste with a food processor or mortar and pestle.
**For a marinade - add 1/2 a tablespoon of tomato paste, 3 extra tablespoons of olive oil, 2 generous pinches of good quality saffron and 1/3 of a cup of water. After coating fish or chicken in the marinade, assemble in tagine and pour remainder over entire dish.
See more Moroccan Recipes in our Cookbooks Section