Moroccan Fish in Spicy Tomato Sauce – Chraime
This Moroccan inspired fish dish is simple, easy and effortless. Also known as Chraime here in Israel this Fish in spicy tomato sauce takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. Sweet crushed tomatoes spiced with hot paprika and smoky cumin this dish is bursting with flavor and yet light and refreshing as a meal on its own with rice, couscous or pita bread.
I am a huge fan of Moroccan cuisine, in fact, our whole family is. We have eaten Moroccan fish in restaurants before but, I had never ever tried this dish which is called ‘Chraime’ here in Israel.
Not long ago we were at a friends place for dinner and there we had this delicious fish. Turns out Ziv grew up eating this fish in his ‘Kibbutz’ and my Aadi now had fallen in love with it. So, I graciously asked my host what this dish was.
A little history I learned about – Chraime
Chraime is a delicious Sephardic recipe made using white fish with a tangy and spicy sauce made using tomatoes and hot smoked paprika. Sephardic Jews are Moroccan Jews and Israel Jew of the northern African origin. They cook this fish in spicy tomato sauce dish on Friday night aka Shabbat dinner on the Jewish new year (Rosh Hashanah) and on Passover. Another common fish dish made during Rosh Hashanah and Passover is the Gefilte fish with horseradish which I shared with you before.
A very special dish and I can see why. I learned something new. Of course, since then I have made this a few times and happy to say both Ziv and Aadi really enjoy it. We make it a few times during the year but never really on the days they are supposed to be made.
About this recipe
The traditional recipe is very simple and easy. You don’t even have to lightly brown the fish. The flavors are truly wonderful with sweet crushed tomatoes and sweet smoked paprika. A wonderful kick from the smoky cumin and hot paprika really get your taste buds singing. Perfect balance of sweet, spicy and tangy yet very light and refreshing. Even if you don’t appreciate Moroccan food you will fall in love with this fish dish. You can serve this with steamed rice, or couscous like I have done or as traditionally eaten with challah or pita bread. I love to enjoy the sauce with a crusty French baguette. If you love eating crusty bread soaked up in sauce, this is wonderful.
A personal twist
Like I said traditionally you do not need to fry the fish until lightly golden. You can just add the pieces to the sauce just as is. I highly recommend you drain any excess moisture to prevent thinning the sauce too much. The sauce is really delicious so while the traditional recipe uses only fresh white fish I have tried a few other things too. Try using the leftover sauce with eggs (Shakshuka style), I have used meatballs which my kids love very much. I have even made this with chicken. I highly saute the chicken in oil then add all the rest of the ingredients. Honestly, the sauce is so delicious on its own you can add anything or nothing. My kids will eat this sauce over steamed rice.
Let’s talk ingredients and substitute (Save/Pin)
- Fish – traditionally, any white fish works for this dish. Today I have used Tilapia also known as Amnon here in Isreal or Musht in Arabic. I have tried this with seabass fillet as well as halibut.
- Crushed tomatoes – you can use fresh tomatoes of course and I do that sometimes but canned tomatoes do give it a nice thickness and color compared to fresh. You can use about 2 cups of chopped fresh tomatoes instead.
- Tomato paste – not much used but does add a nice sweetness and color to this dish.
- Paprika – here I am using sweet smoked and hot but again you can change it to suit your preference – You can add more of either. Personally, I love the hot paprika but again if necessary feel free to omit the hot paprika altogether.
- Ginger powder – in Moroccan cuisine ground ginger is used not fresh ginger. But often I have been guilty of substituting fresh ginger when possible. So go ahead and add 1 tsp of fresh ginger and I won’t tell anyone.
Recipe – Moroccan Fish in Spicy Tomato Sauce – Chraime (Save/Pin)
- 500 grams (6 pieces) Fish (halibut, sea bass, tilapia, grey mullet)
- 1/2 cup onion chopped (1 small)
- 1 tsp garlic minced (1 small)
- 50 grams (1/4 cup) flour (optional)
- 2 tbsp Cooking oil
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- and 1 tbsp Tomato paste
- 1 can Crushed tomatoes (292 grams)
- 250 ml (1 cup) water
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp Hot paprika
- and 1 tsp ginger powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- and 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1/4 cup – fresh cilantro (Chopped)
Lightly fry fish – Optional (can only be done with Amnon style sliced fish)
- Season flour with salt, pepper, and paprika
- Coat fish on all sides with flour
- Add one tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and
- Lightly cook on both sides until slightly golden (2 minutes on each side)
- Remove and set aside – keep warm.
The traditional method (all other fish)
- Heat oil in a skillet
- Saute the onion and garlic until translucent
- Add tomato paste, spices, salt, and pepper – saute a minute
- Then add the can of crushed tomatoes and water
- Stir well – let cook covered for 10 minutes.
- Gently place the fish in the tomato sauce
- Shimmy/shake the pan so the fish sinks into the sauce
- Cover again and cook another 10 minutes
- Sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro.
- Serve with steamed rice, couscous, pita bread, challah or try crusty French baguette.
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Moroccan Fish in Spicy Tomato Sauce Chraime
Ingredients - Choose (Metric or US Customary) below
- 500 grams Fish (halibut, sea bass, tilapia, grey mullet)
- 1/2 cup Onion chopped
- 1 tsp Garlic minced
- 50 grams flour optional
- 2 tbsp Cooking oil
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 tbsp Tomato paste
- 1 can Crushed tomatoes
- 250 ml Water
- 2 tbsp Smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp Hot paprika
- 1 tsp Ginger powder
- 1 tsp Cumin powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Pepper
- 1/4 cup Fresh Cilantro Chopped
Lightly fry fish - Optional (can only be done with Amnon style sliced fish)
Season flour with salt, pepper, and paprika
Coat fish on all sides with flour
Add one tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and
Lightly cook on both sides until slightly golden (2 minutes on each side)
Remove and set aside - keep warm.
The Traditional method (all other fish)
Heat oil in a skillet
Saute the onion and garlic until translucent
Add tomato paste, spices, salt, and pepper - saute a minute
Then add the can of crushed tomatoes and water
Stir well - let cook covered for 10 minutes.
Gently place the fish in the tomato sauce
Shimmy/shake the pan so the fish sinks into the sauce
Cover again and cook another 10 minutes
Sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro.
Serve with steamed rice, couscous, pita bread, challah or try crusty French baguette.
Recipe Video - full version (detailed)
Do you like Middle Eastern Food? Israeli Food?
I have some amazing recipes like quick Sheet Pan Shawarma Chicken and Shawarma Chicken aka pita pockets to Heart Healthy Classic Hummus and Tahini Sauce as well as indulgent falafel and Passover favorite Gefilte fish and Chocolate Pecan Cake to summer classics Kebabs and festive latkes. You can find them all here Middle Eastern Recipes. Alternatively, you can find a whole list all my recipes here on this Recipe Index