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.
Including exotic cinnamon, one of my favourite spices.
Toast the caraway seeds and cool before freshly grinding. The toasting brings out a nuttier flavour in the seed.
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.
Season the flour with salt and pepper and coat the salmon.
Heat oil in a frying pan and sear the fish on each side, until golden.
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.
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.
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.
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