I am always on the lookout for interesting fish recipes as seafood lends itself very well to unique flavour combinations. The same piece of salmon can be used to create a French bistro style dish, a spicy Indian curry or as in this case, a dish with Middle Eastern flavours. I got the ‘Jerusalem’ cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi as a gift more than a year ago. Ever since, I have tried numerous recipes from it, a few of which have already become firm favourites. The ‘salmon steaks in chraimeh sauce’ recipe was one on my must-try list. The other day, when I found some decent salmon fillets in the supermarket, it was time to dig out the book and try out this dish.
This book is a treasure trove of recipes inspired by the culture and memories of the city in which the authors grew up. I love the little anecdotes preceding each recipe that give a brief insight into it’s history. It shows you how food can travel across the world and mingle with various cultures and create it’s own identity in each new place. It’s amazing.
The chraimeh sauce in which the fish is cooked is a tangy spicy sauce that gets its flavours and colour from tomato puree, a combination of spices and a hint of lemon and sugar. It is the perfect foil to a thick piece of fish and makes for a satisfying light supper.
The original recipe suggests using either salmon steaks or fillets of white fish. I used salmon fillets instead. Also, I did tone down the heat a little by adding only half a chilli as opposed to a whole one. Whichever way you customise it, this dish will still be a satisfying one.
Fish in Chraimeh Sauce (original recipe from ‘Jerusalem’ by Ottolenghi and Tamimi)
Ingredients (serves 2)
6-7 tbsp sunflower oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1tbsp caraway seeds, dry roasted and coarsely ground
2tsp sweet paprika
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
a good pinch of cayenne pepper – 1/3tsp
a good pinch of ground cinnamon – 1/3tsp
half a green chilli, roughly chopped
3tbsp plain/all purpose flour
2 fillets of salmon or other firm white fish – salmon steaks or sea bass are the otherwise recommended
150ml/5fl oz. water
3tbsp tomato puree
2tbsp lemon juice plus lemon wedges
chopped fresh coriander leaves
salt and pepper to taste
Combine 2 tablespoons of the oil with the garlic, spices and chilli and blend to a paste using a stick blender or food processor. In a medium to large sized pan, heat another two tablespoons of the oil. Season the flour with salt and pepper and place in a bowl. Toss the fish in the flour, shake off any excess and place the fish in the hot pan. Sear on both sides for about two minutes each side until golden in colour. Remove the fish and set aside on a plate. Drain off any excess oil in the pan and wipe it dry.
Heat the rest of the oil in the pan. Once hot enough, add the spice paste to the pan. Stir it around and cook for about 30 seconds. Then add the water and tomato puree to the pan. Bring the mixture to a simmer, add the sugar and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the fish to the pan. Bring the sauce to a simmer, cover the pan and cook on a low heat for about 10-15 minutes until the fish is cooked through.
Remove the lid, let the pan cool down a little. Serve the dish warm garnished with the fresh coriander and lemon wedges. It makes a lovely combination with rice, cous cous or bread. Although this dish was made for just two, I used the original ingredient measurements for the sauce which is for four servings. This gave us plenty sauce but not too much was left over. So if you’d like to make this for more than two people, just double the ingredients.
A great dish for an easy weeknight supper. Give it a try!