Crispy-skinned fish with harissa dressing

Fish pairs wonderfully in this Nici Wickes recipe with smoked mussels and spicy harissa dressing. Fire up the barbie and get these delicious North African flavours cooking.

By Nici Wickes
  • 25 mins cooking
  • Serves 4
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  • 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced thick
  • 1/2 red capsicum
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil + extra
  • 4 decent-sized fish fillets (skin on if you can get it), i use terakihi or gurnard
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 8 smoked mussels
  • 3 tablespoon harissa dressing (see below)
  • 2 lemons, halved and grilled
Spicy harissa dressing (makes about 1 cup)
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 3 fresh red chilli
  • 4 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoon each of coriander, cumin, fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 100 millilitre olive oil
  • 3 tablespoon vinegar


  • 1
    Brush the fennel slices and capsicum with oil and cook on a hot plate until softened – about 10 minutes. Slice the capsicum.
  • 2
    Brush oil on your fish. Get an old pan hot on the grill. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in the pan and lay the fish, skin-side down, in the bubbling butter. Cook until crisp and then flip. Add the remaining butter, smoked mussels and sliced capsicum.
  • 3
    To serve, spoon over harissa dressing and serve alongside grilled lemons and fennel.
Spicy harissa dressing
  • 4
    Roast the capsicum, chilli and garlic on your BBQ grill until softened. Discard their skins and de-seed.
  • 5
    In a pan, dry fry the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds until fragrant. Grind them to a fine powder in a blender or with a mortar and pestle. Add the paprika, capsicum, chilli and garlic; blitz to a paste, adding in the olive oil and vinegar near the end. Season with salt.
  • 6
    Keep your dressing in a jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months.


Fish has a tendency to stick to the BBQ cooking surface so I use an old pan. It means the fish gets some of the lovely smoky BBQ flavour but doesn’t create a mess. Or, simply line your cooking surface with oiled foil.

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