Total time: 30 minutes
Makes 4 servings
Adapted from a recipe in the cookbook Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi
A large cast-iron or steel skillet
A Frywall that fits (see our sizing guide)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
4 fish steaks (such as salmon, halibut, or swordfish), about 1 1/2 lb.
6 cloves garlic
2 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tbsp. ground caraway seeds
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. red chili flakes
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 jalapeño chile, seeded and deveined
2/3 cup water
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro or mint
salt and pepper to taste
In a food processor combine the garlic, jalapeño, spices, and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Blitz until the mixture turns into a paste, adding a bit more oil if needed to bring the ingredients together.
Place the flour in a shallow dish and mix in the salt and pepper. Dredge the fish steaks, shaking off any excess flour.
Heat two tablespoons of oil in the skillet over high heat and place the Frywall into position. When the oil begins to shimmer, place the fish steaks into the pan and sear on medium-high heat for a minute or two on each side. The fish should be golden-brown on both sides but not cooked through. Remove to a plate.
Add the spice paste into the still-hot pan, and stirring constantly, cook for about 30 seconds. The paste will sizzle and spit and emit an amazing odor, but don't get so mesmerized that you let it burn. As the paste starts to change color, arrest the frying by the adding tomato paste and water. Once incorporated, add the sugar, lemon juice, and a teaspoon of salt. Bring the sauce to a boil. (If dinner is a couple of hours away, pause here and resume the recipe 15 minutes before dinnertime.)
Place the fish back into the pan, cover with a lid, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, then flip the fish, recover the pan and cook for an additional 4 to 5 minutes. The fish is ready when it feels slightly springy to the touch.
You can serve the chraimeh right away, or a bit later at room temperature. Serve with crusty bread or rice.