An octopus appetizer is flavored with chermoula at La Sirena Clandestina, Chicago. Chef
Mark Steuer has used chermoula for a long time, and he likes the brightness that it brings to
dishes, especially seafood.
He uses chermoula as a marinade in the octopus dish. First, he confits a baby Spanish octopus
in olive oil, garlic, onion, coriander, house-dried piri piri peppers and cilantro until tender. Then,
he marinates the octopus in a tart apple chermoula made with Granny Smith apples, garlic, onion,
cumin, coriander, honey, parsley and cilantro. Finally, it’s charred on the grill and plated over
roasted squash romesco. An apple/celery relish, toasted acorn squash seeds and an herb salad of
parsley, celery heart and scallion dressed with olive oil, lemon and sea salt garnish the dish.
Steuer makes the apple chermoula in-house. He steeps coriander, cumin, garlic, dried chilies,
onion and salt in olive oil. Then, it’s pureed, and allowed to cool before he purees in herbs such as
cilantro and parsley. “The herbs and apple thicken it, and it stays bright, green and fresh,” he says.
“I added the apple because with the cilantro and parsley in the chermoula, I wanted something that
is a little sweet but still tart.
“The chermoula really brings a freshness to the chargrilled seafood. It’s one of our most
Chermoula can be found in a number of unexpected places on Fig & Olive’s menu, such as a
carrot crostini appetizer and a pumpkin/sage ravioli dish. The pumpkin/sage ravioli has free-range
chicken, ricotta and chermoula served with pumpkin/olive oil emulsion, toasted pumpkin seeds,
Parmesan and aged balsamic. The heirloom carrot crostini features chermoula and carrot tapenade.
Reyes likes that a little chermoula brings big flavor to so many applications. “It can be used
in cold and hot cooking methods as a marinade, vinaigrette or a topping/condiment,” he says.
“We even use it as a drizzle on top of dishes. Generally, we use it as a minor part of the dish, but
is adds major flavor.”
At Decca, Pettry livens up a yogurt sauce with chermoula and serves the sauce with crisp
russet potatoes. She folds green chermoula into labna yogurt and spoons it over the triple-fried
potatoes. “The cool, tangy and cumin-scented chermoula yogurt pairs beautifully with the hot
and crispy russets,” she says.
She adds that she likes to give a dish an unexpected pop of flavor. “This is often accomplished
by using an exotic spice,” Pettry says. “I like the pop of flavor from the cumin in chermoula. We
get a lot of compliments on it, and our guests love it.”
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sea bass at fig & olive is marinated
in lemon and thyme and served with
carrot, asparagus, celery root puree,
chermoula mascarpone and harissa olive