Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Salmon Steaks in Chraimeh Sauce

So sorry for the delay in posting, dear readers.

I can explain.  

My MacBook Pro would not boot up so it was off to the Apple store with my device in hand.  Apparently there was a problem with the OS.  All I know is that between my modem problems and laptop issues, life without connectivity has been both a colossal nuisance and oddly liberating.   

As we sat at the Easter dinner table, the yougins' asked how we communicated and planned social activities before we had computers, cell-phones and texting capability.  The Boomers and Traditionalists replied that we talked to one another, either in person or on the phone.  We spent hours at our friend’s houses, listening to music — 12” albums, there are some of my favorites right over there — or eagerly anticipating the next episode of our favorite shows because, in those days, binge watching was not an option.  

It was a simpler time.

In other news….It was back to the Jerusalem Cookbook a few Wednesdays ago at C’s house.  She made Salmon Steaks in Chraimeh Sauce and, let me tell you, it was absolutely delicious.  Perfectly balanced flavors and not one flavor, not even the salmon, shined through.

There are many different variations of Chraimeh Sauce, but the one thing they all have in common is the red, hot and spicy, and, in this case, rendering the flavor of the fish subordinate.  Chraimeh, like pasta gravy for Italians, is a point of pride in Tripolitian families, each showcasing their own saucy characteristics…color, heat and consistency.  As a matter of fact, the cookbook explains that the Jews introduced tomatoes to Italy in the 17th century os it makes sense that the culinary traditions parallel.  

This recipe is usually made with white fish, like bass, but the authors chose to use salmon because it is readily available.  Serve this dish with plenty of crispy bread so your guests can sop-up the sauce…and forgive them in advance for abandoning their best table manners.  You may want to draw the line at plate-licking but, I will tell you, this sauce will provoke such behavior!  

Served along side of couscous or rice, this dish is easier to make than it seems and will soon become a dinner-party favorite.

Salmon Steaks with Chraimeh Sauce
by:  Jerusalem Cookbook

1/2 cup sunflower oil
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 salmon steaks
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 Tablespoon caraway seed, ground
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 green chile, coarsely, chopped
2/3 cup water
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons superfine
1 lemon, cut into wedges
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons of the sunflower oil over high heat in a large frying plan for which you have a lid.  Place the flour in a shallow bowl, season generously with salt and pepper, and toss the fish in it.  Shake off the excess flour and sear the fish for a minute or two one each side, until golden.  Remove the fish and while the pan clean.

Place the garlic, spices, chile, and 2 tablespoons of the sunflower oil in a flood processor and blitz got for a thick paste, adding more oil if necessary to bind things together.  Pour the remaining oil into the frying pan, heat well and add the spice paste.  Stir and fry for just 30 seconds, so the spices don’t burn.  Quickly but carefully, add the water and tomato paste to stop the spices from cooking.  Bring to a simmer and add the sugar, lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon salt and some pepper.  Taste for seasoning.

Put the fish in the sauce, bring to a gentle simmer, cover the plan and cook for 7-11 minutes, depending on the size of the fish, until it is just done.  Remove the pan from the heat, take the lid off, and leave to cool down.  Serve the fish just warm or at room temperature.  Garnish each serving with the cilantro and lemon wedge, along side of the couscous or rice.  

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