Chraime with couscous (a.k.a. fish in spicy tomato sauce) + GIVEAWAY
I'm sneaking in one Jewish recipe just before the end of passover. Chraime, a classic dish traditionally served at Shabbat, Passover and Rosh Hashanah, is simply fish cooked in a fragrant tomato sauce spiced with caraway and hot paprika. But really, it’s good any time of year. And most people I know haven’t heard of it, which is a shame because it’s absolutely delicious.
While I'm not Jewish, I've been eating this dish since I was little. The recipe comes from my stepdad, an Italian cook who grew up in Libya, where he learned a mashup of cuisines from his mother and some old Jewish neighbor ladies. Growing up, this was one of my favorite dishes that he would cook. I liked the spice and the depth of flavor created from simmering the sauce down over a long period of time. Typically we also would only eat it during holidays or special occasions, but now he makes it any time I ask when visiting home.
I tweaked his (very traditional) original recipe to include a couple things, such as cinnamon, which I found in Yotam Ottolenghi’s version of chraime. I think it adds just a touch of sweet spice to balance out the heat. I repeat, this is my version of chraime. Many people take this dish (and what goes in it) very seriously. While I respect that, I'm putting forth my best version.
For the fish, I used an Alaskan halibut delivered to my door by sustainable seafood provider, Daily Fresh Fish. You can use any kind of fish, really, but flakey white fish tend to do best in this sauce because they don’t impart too much fishy flavor. Daily Fresh Fish sent me a sample of its halibut to cook with, and, if you’re interested, they can send you one too! The fish was lovely, fresh and flavorful.
GIVEAWAY: Daily Fresh Fish will provide one lucky winner (U.S. only) with two orders of fresh Alaskan halibut (a total of 4, 6-ounce. fillets) and one order of green mussels. To enter all you have to do is follow Laurel Street Kitchen on Instagram, share your favorite fish recipe and tag a friend whom you’d like to eat it with!
Entries will be accepted through midnight PST April 21st.
If you like the flavors of long-simmered tomatoes, caraway and spice, this one's for you. It takes about 1 hour to prepare from start to finish, with time to have a glass of wine and call your mom in between. You can make this with any kind of fish, but I prefer flaky white fish like halibut or cod. Also, you can use all ground spices to save time, but I’m a firm believer in grinding whole spices fresh when you can. Spices bring their full flavor when you crush them like this. They also last a lot longer in your pantry. Similarly for the couscous, toasting the grains in a bit of oil before cooking brings out more flavor.
1, 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 lemon, juiced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 ½ teaspoons caraway seeds
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 Serrano pepper, minced
½ teaspoon ground paprika
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne (more if you like the heat)
1 ½ cups couscous (I used Israeli for the picture, but any kind will do)
4, 4-ounce fish fillets, such as halibut, salmon or cod
Small bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
Handful fresh mint leaves, chopped
Start by making the spicy tomato sauce. Dissolve the tomato paste in 4 cups of hot water. Add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. In a coffee or spice grinder, grind the cumin and caraway seeds.
In a medium frying pan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook until the onion is really soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the Serrano and cook until that’s just fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the dissolved tomato paste and the remaining spices and stir to combine. Turn the heat down to a simmer and let cook until all the flavors start coming together and the liquid reduces by half, 45 to 50 minutes. Season with salt, to taste.
While the sauce is bubbling away, you can cook the couscous. In a medium saucepan, warm the remaining oil over medium-high heat and add the couscous. Stir until the couscous begins to color and smell toasty, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 3 cups water and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the couscous is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the mint and fluff with a fork.
By now it should be time to cook the fish. Pat the fish dry with a paper towel and season generously with salt. Gently slide the fish in the sauce, which should still be simmering. Spoon the sauce over the fillets. Simmer until the fish is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes, depending on the fish you chose. You can check for doneness with a toothpick. If the took pick slides in and out very easily, it should be done.
Place the fish on a bed of couscous, top with plenty of sauce, garnish with cilantro and serve.