1 jalapeno chile, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon harissa, store-bought or homemade
3 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground caraway
1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 pints cherry tomatoes
½ cup water
1 large bunch fresh cilantro
Freshly ground pepper
4 (7 ounce) fillets flakey white-fleshed fish (grouper, bass, snapper, and halibut are all nice) skin off if possible
Pour the vegetable oil into a deep large skillet.
Immediately add smashed garlic cloves and cook on low heat just until fragrant, 3-4 minutes. Watch the pan closely to make sure the garlic doesn't brown, or it will become bitter.
Increase heat to medium-high, add the tomato paste, half the jalapeno, 1 ½ teaspoon of the harissa, and all the paprika, caraway, and cumin and stir for a minute or two, until fragrant.
Add 1 ½ pint of the cherry tomatoes (reserve the rest for later) and season with salt.
Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to break down, 7-8 minutes.
Pour in the water, bring to a simmer, cover and cook over low heat for about 30 mins, or until thick and saucy.
Remove about 3 tablespoons of whole leaves from the cilantro bunch and reserve them for garnish.
Tear up the rest of the bunch and toss it into the pan. Give it a minute to blend with the sauce, then taste and adjust that season with salt, pepper, and the remaining jalapeno and 1 ½ teaspoon harissa if you want more heat.
Add the fish filet, skin side up, tucking them gently into the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining ½ pint cherry tomatoes on top of the fish. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, without stirring, until the fish is cooked, 7 to 8 minutes
Thicker fillets will need 2-3 minutes more.
To check doneness, make a small incision in the thickest part of the fish and make sure the flesh is opaque and flakey.
Serve straight out of the pan, garnished with the reserved whole cilantro leaves.