Chraime is a spicy North African tomato sauce usually cooked with fish. In Israel, this dish is often served for Friday night dinner, and as an appetizer during the Jewish holidays.
For the fish kebabs, in a skillet set over medium heat, cook the shallots in two tablespoons olive oil for five to 10 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Set aside to cool.
Chop the fish with a big, sharp knife until some smallish pieces remain and some are finely minced. If you are doing this in a food processor, cut the fish into about one-inch pieces and then pulse until the fish resembles hand-chopped fish – try not to overprocess it. Transfer the fish to a bowl, then add the cooled shallots, herbs, egg, salt, cardamom, cumin, sweet paprika, sumac, turmeric, and pepper. Mix well. Shape the mixture into 16 to 20 small patties, about two ounces each.
Add two tablespoons olive oil to a large, deep, heavy-bottomed skillet set over medium-high heat. Cook the patties for one to two minutes per side, or until browned – you will probably have to do this in batches. Don’t worry about cooking them through, as they will finish cooking in the sauce. Set the browned patties aside.
For the sauce, heat the olive oil (in the same pan that you used to brown the fish) over medium heat (just make sure to wipe out any burned bits). Add the onions and cook for four to six minutes, or just until tender and lightly browned. Add the garlic, chopped jalapeno, cumin, sweet paprika, turmeric, smoked paprika, and salt. Cook for about one minute. Add the tomato paste and harissa. Cook for another minute. (At any point if the pan seems dry, add a few tablespoons of water.) Add the tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil (increase the heat if necessary), then cook on medium heat until the tomatoes split and collapse. Add 1/4 cup cilantro. Let the tomatoes cook for a few minutes into a sauce while retaining a little of their shape. Season well.
Add the patties to the tomato sauce and gently cook for five to eight minutes, covered, or until just cooked through. Sprinkle with the remaining cilantro and chilies, and serve with tahini sauce, and z’hug, if using.
Fish fillet alternative: To make this recipe with fish fillets instead, skip steps one and two and add two pounds boneless, skinless fish fillets, seasoned with salt and pepper, to the sauce in a single layer in step three. Cook just until the fish is cooked through, seven to ten minutes, depending on the thickness. When I am making this for more than six people, and the fish will not fit in the pain in a single layer, I usually make the sauce first and roast the fish separately on a large baking sheet, then spoon the sauce over the roasted fish to serve.
From DON’T WORRY, JUST COOK by Bonnie Stern and Anna Rupert, published by Appetite by Random House, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada. Copyright © 2022 Bonnie Stern Cooking Schools Ltd. and Anna Rupert. Food photography by Tyler Anderson. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.