In Jewish tradition, the Friday evening Sabbath meal includes both a soup and fish course, in addition to the main meat or chicken. Ashkenazi Jews (of Eastern European origin) have made Gefilte Fish, a carp dish served with horseradish sauce, their tradition. Hraymi is a very spicy fish dish that became traditional among the Sephardic Jews who came from North Africa and Libya. Europeans might exchange their Gefilte Fish for Hraymi, but the reverse would never happen. “Hraymi is the love that has no substitute, – it is claimed – and the pain that accompanies it is the pain of love.
Don’t assume if this is an only Jewish dish, it isn’t. You will specialties and variations of this recipe all over the Middle East and North Africa. And of course many Chefs are using this spicy fish in combination with other things, like salmon. Many variations apply the way how the Chefs (and those who cook at home) serve the Hraymi (some serve it with puree, others with rice, others use it as a side dish and others eat it without anything then only the Hraymi.
- 2 Ib (1 kg) fresh fish fillets, such as bass or halibut
- Fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup (125 ml) vegetable oil
- 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 1 green chile, finely sliced, or 3 whole dried red chiles
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 4-5 tomatoes, thickly sliced
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro (coriander) or
- chopped celery stalk
- Garnish: lemon wedges
- Squeeze some lemon juice over the fish and sprinkle with salt.
- Allow to stand for 10 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan that can hold all the fish slices in one layer, over a medium to high flame.
- Add the garlic and sliced peppers.
- As the oil around the garlic begins to bubble, add the paprika and salt.
- Stir gently and cook for another minute.
- Remove the spiced oil from the pan and reserve.
- Do not rinse the pan. That’s what I did once. Not good.
- Place the sliced tomatoes on the bottom of the pan and sprinkle half of the
reserved spiced oil and half of the chopped cilantro (coriander) or celery over them.
- Add the fish and top with the remaining oil mixture and greens.
- Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Lower the heat, uncover, and cook for another 7 to 10 minutes.
- Shake the pan often to keep the fish covered with the sauce.
- Serve with lemon wedges.