Salmon steaks in chraimeh saucePrint Recipe
110ml sunflower oil
3 tbsp plain flour
4 salmon steaks, on the bone, about 950g
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp caraway seeds, dry-toasted and freshly ground
1½ tsp ground cumin
⅓ tsp cayenne
⅓ tsp ground cinnamon
1 green chilli, roughly chopped
3 tbsp tomato purée
2 tsp caster sugar
1 lemon, cut into four wedges, plus 2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp roughly chopped coriander
salt and black pepper
Chraimeh is commonly made using greater amberjack steaks, on the bone, but can be prepared with any other type of white fish. We use salmon here because these are the most widely available as steaks. If you find a large sea bass, that would be the best. White fish, off the bone, is another acceptable compromise. Chraimeh is served as a starter, warm or at room temperature, with challa (you can use any good white bread) for dipping, a slice of lemon
and a jug of water, to calm the heat. It is easily reheated and the sauce is so tasty you could double the amount if you wanted and just have more in which to dip the bread. Serve with couscous or rice.
(p 234, Jerusalem)
Authentic and delectable
To start, I'm of Libyan-Jewish background and I grew up on this dish. I have fond memories of my Libyan-grandmother making mass quantities for shabbat dinner to serve her 16 children (plus their spouses, children and grandchildren). It was astonishing.
On a whim, I tried Ottolenghi's version as it had similar ingredients to my family's. The main difference is that our "recipe" is not written down and the measures are eyeballed, which has made sharing the recipe challenging. (And I've had many, many requests for a reliable recipe). Thanks to Ottolenghi, I have the perfect recipe to recommend. It's savory. It's spicy. It's the real deal! Guaranteed to make you feel warm and happy.
Though we traditionally served this fish as an appetizer on Friday evening, it most definitely can (and should) be made as a main course. Truthfully, it deserves all the limelight! While less traditional than white fish, salmon is my favorite fish (and probably food), so I always use it for chriameh. Enjoy!
-Quality salmon is best enjoyed around medium-rare (or rarer). I prepare the sauce ahead of time and cook the salmon just before serving. I suggest only cooking for 7 minutes as it will cook a bit more in the hot sauce.
-If you're making a few hours in advanced for shabbat dinner and plan to keep on a warmer, you need to significantly cut back on the cooking time or you'll dry out the fish. And there are few things worse than that. At least for salmon, I'd probably still have it close to raw inside as it will continue to cook on the warming plate. This method should result in a beautiful salmon cooked to medium (rather than a well-done misery).
-White fish dries out quite easily, so cook times are especially important.
Photo of my dish!