Chraime Salmon – Your New Shabbat Favorite
“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.
Let us know in the comments if you know how to pronounce this delicious dish.
Recipe inspired by:
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.