Chraimeh is a classic recipe from Tunisian cuisine and a favorite among Israelis of all origins. This dish is served on many holiday tables; you can think of it as a Mizrahi replacement for gefilte fish. Traditionally, the fish is cut into steaks as the skin and bones add flavor to the sauce, though you can also use fish fillet, if you prefer. Any firm fish can work here, even salmon. In Israel the preferred fish is carp. Whichever fish you choose, this will be a delicious and unique entrée to serve for the High Holidays or any special occasion.
- ⅓ cup corn oil, safflower oil or mild olive oil, plus more for frying
- 12 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 Tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- chili pepper flakes, to taste
- kosher salt
- 3 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1⅓ cups water at room temperature
- 4 fish steaks such as salmon, tilapia or red snapper
- ½ tsp white pepper
- 4 Serrano peppers (optional)
- 1 lemon
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- Place a wide pan (that can hold all the fish in one layer) on medium heat. Add oil. When the oil is hot, add garlic and sauté until garlic is transparent, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.
- Add paprika, caraway seeds, chili flakes and 1½ tsp salt and cook for another minute.
- Add tomato paste, mix and cook for another minute.
- Add water, then mix, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the fish in one layer, sprinkle a little salt and white pepper on the fish and drizzle some of the sauce, cover the pan and cook on low simmer for 10-15 minutes until the fish is fully cooked (it depends on the thickness of the fish.) Let fish stand in the covered pan for 5 minutes before serving.
- While fish is cooking, fry whole Serrano peppers in a little oil in a small pan over medium-high heat until tender and a little bit charred. Set aside.
- Transfer fish and sauce to serving plates. Drizzle with lemon juice, sprinkle with cilantro and serve with one Serrano pepper per person on the side.