Chraime Salmon – Your New Shabbat Favorite

16 May 2017

“Chraime,” I vocalized with an aspirated “chhh.”  “Chhh…RAM…Chhh…RAMIE…Chhh…RA-EEM…”.  My husband turned to me as I continued to practice and try on different pronunciations as though I were trying on shoes for the perfect fit.  He tells me he loves me then asks me if I have something in my throat.

I haven’t figured out how to pronounce it yet.

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If you’re a friend of mine and a foodie, chances are you’ve heard me rave about the 2015 cookbook, Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking by Michael Solomon.  And, if you’re a foodie, you’ve definitely heard of the 2012 best seller, Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottelenghi.  Both books have given us a peek into the diverse and flavorful cuisines throughout Israel and both brought to culinary vogue shakshuka and fattoush.  After hearing about this traditional Shabbat fish stew, I decided these two books should be consulted.

Here are two things I learned:

1. Chraime is traditionally a Moroccan-Jewish dish

In Morocco, so I’ve read, it’s known simply as Fish with Tomato and Pepper or Spicy Fish Stew.  Chraime is supposedly only what its called in Israel.  It was first a Jewish dish, served by Jews in Morocco for the Shabbat meal as it could cook for a long time and would hold up to being served at room temperature.

2. Neither book did their Chraime very much alike.  At all.

Whereas Zahav featured a medley of red bell pepper, Italian long hot peppers, and ground aleppo, Jerusalem chose to add cumin, caraway, and cinnamon with cayenne.  Both Solomonov of Zahav and Ottolenghi of Jerusalem had comments about which kind of fish to use (whole black grouper or salmon steaks, respectively) and both advised it be served with bread.  One preferred tomato purée, another insisted on crushed tomatoes.

My take on Chraime

I ended up leaning toward Ottolenghi’s version.  My husband and I both are fiends for cumin spice and, since I don’t have the access to fresh peppers that Solomonov probably has, I worried if his version just won’t be as good made in my kitchen, miles away from the Mediterranean.

I made a few changes (I couldn’t get my hands on the caraway seeds Ottolenghi’s version called for, but I did like Solomonov’s use of Allepo pepper) and served it with couscous and crème fraîche.

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Chraime Salmon
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Rating: 5
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Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
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Instructions
  1. Pat thawed salmon dry and season generously with salt and pepper.
  2. In a frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the thawed salmon, skin side down and fry until the skin is brown and crisp, about 4 minutes.
  3. Flip the salmon and cook the flesh side for about 30 seconds and remove. Do not cook through. Leave pan hot.
  4. Add the other tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the shallot and garlic, with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until shallot is just softened.
  5. Add spices and mix well into the shallot and garlic mix until the smell just starts to hit your nose. Add the tomato paste and tomatoes. Mix well.
  6. Add water and the 3 sprigs of cilantro. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and return the salmon to the pan, skin side up.
  7. Cook until salmon is done, about 3 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.
  8. Serve with couscous and crème fraîche.

Let us know in the comments if you know how to pronounce this delicious dish.

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Quickly with some personal news:

My husband and I will be visiting his family in Beijing soon.  I’m looking forward to learning some traditional Northern Chinese dishes from his Grandma while we’re there.  And, thankfully, the semester finished so I’ll have a little time to practice my Chinese before we go.

 

8 Comments

  • Reply Fresh Off the Grid 16 May 2017 at 6:17 pm

    This spice combination sounds fantastic. I haven’t used bold spices with salmon before, but I think that is going to change very soon!

    Hope you have a fantastic trip to Beijing – what a great place to pick up some new cooking skills!

    • Reply Chava 16 May 2017 at 6:37 pm

      Another favorite is salmon curry. Thank you so much–we’re excited for the trip!

  • Reply Anne Murphy 17 May 2017 at 3:12 pm

    That looks delicious – and very different from anything I’ve done with salmon. Time to expand my options!

    • Reply Chava 17 May 2017 at 3:15 pm

      Thanks Anne! It does seem a lot different from most recipes for salmon. It inspires me to experiment further.

  • Reply Ron 19 May 2017 at 2:21 am

    Spicy Salmon – I think some of my Swedish friends will like this. Going fishing in a few weeks and hope to have plenty of fresh fish to cook with. This is on my list to try.

    • Reply Chava 19 May 2017 at 9:10 am

      I hope you try it out! Good luck fishing!

  • Reply Christine 22 May 2017 at 1:17 am

    What a delicious spice combination! I would love to try this dish out sometime.

    • Reply Chava 23 May 2017 at 9:28 am

      It’s my favorite combo for salmon right now. I hope you try it out!

    What do YOU think?