Salmon in Chraimeh Sauce

IMG_0367 (1024x903)I have to be one of the greatest fans of the Ottolenghi/Tamimi series of cookbooks.  Each book has the most beautifully photographed recipes and meals.  And the covers of these cookbooks are padded which makes them a joy to hold and peruse at leisure. I have prepared so many of the recipes and they each come out exactly as the photographs show, which is very satisfying.  And even more satisfying is that they taste like what I was expecting too.  One of my favourite fish recipes from the Jerusalem cookbook, a book full of interesting middle eastern recipes with a twist, is Salmon in Chraimeh Sauce;  the chraimeh sauce from Northern Africa, is spicy-sweet and hot.  Its deep red colour is a visual delight and this salmon has received rave reviews each time I have served it.

Ottolenghi suggests to serve this fish as a starter but it makes a fantastic main course as well.  I prefer to use salmon fillets instead of steaks as they are boneless.  The rest of the ingredients are staples in my fridge and pantry. Fresh cilantro, chili pepper, lemon and garlic.  Tomato paste, flour, sugar and oil from the pantry. Caraway seeds and ground spices from my spice shelf.

salmon1 (800x598)

Salmon fillets and all the ingredients laid out for the chraimeh sauce.

Including exotic cinnamon, one of my favourite spices.

salmon2 (800x760)

Toast the caraway seeds and cool before freshly grinding.  The toasting brings out a nuttier flavour in the seed.

salmon3 (800x598)

After grinding the caraway seeds, add the garlic, spices, chili and some oil  to the food processor and form a thick paste.  Put aside and prepare the salmon.

salmon4 (800x598)

Season the flour with salt and pepper and coat the salmon.

salmon5 (800x517)

Heat oil in a frying pan and sear the fish on each side, until golden.

salmon7 (800x598)

Remove the fish from the frying pan and wipe the pan clean.  Add more oil to the pan and add the spice paste.  Keep it on medium-low heat.  The sauce is going to spit and you don’t want it to burn.  Quickly add the water and tomato paste and keep stirring.  Lower the heat to a simmer and add the sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

salmon8 (800x598)

Gently slide the salmon fillets into the simmering sauce and coat well.  Cook for an addition 5-10 minutes until the fish is cooked through.

salmon9 (800x598)

I served this salmon with a previous published couscous salad from the Ottolenghi’s vegetarian cookbook, Plenty, and a delicious spinach salad with almonds and dates, also from the Jerusalem cookbook which is on my wishlist to publish soon.

IMG_0368 (787x1024)

Salmon with Chraimeh sauce

1/2 cup  oil
3 tbsp plain flour
4 salmon fillets
6 garlic cloves
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp caraway seeds, toasted and ground
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 green chili, chopped
2/3 cup water
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp superfine sugar
1 lemon cut into wedges plus 2 tbsp juice
2 tbsp coriander leaves, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to season

  1. Heat 2 tbsp oil over high heat in a large frying pan. Put the flour in a shallow dish, season with salt and pepper and then toss the fish in it to coat. Shake off the excess and sear the fish  for a minute or two on each side. Remove the fish and wipe the pan clean.
  2. Add the garlic, spices, chilli and 2 tbsp oil in a food processor and blend to form a paste. Add a little more oil if it is too thick.
  3. Put the remaining oil in the fry pan, heat well and add the spice paste. Stir for a minute or so but don’t let the spices burn. Add the water and tomato paste, whisking quickly. Bring to a simmer and add the sugar, lemon juice, some salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning and then add the fish.
  4. Cover with a lid and keep at a gentle simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the fish is just done. Remove the pan from the heat, take off the lid and leave to cool down. Serve the fish just warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with the coriander and with the lemon wedges on the side.

IMG_0369 (1024x765)



  1. Yummy.

  2. Really good and easy – I’ve made this one too! Listen to Shelley –

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: