Chraimi is a Sephardic dish I’ve had at my aunt and uncle’s house on the occasion of many Jewish holidays. It’s a garlicky, tomatoey paste for spreading on your favorite protein. It works best on fish–especially salmon and tilapia, which I’ve used here–but I’ve also done this with tofu, and I’m sure you could use chicken as well. Thanks to my cousin Sharonie for the recipe. I’ve been eating this at her house for years, and always wondered how to make it!

Make yo’self a paste:

  • 1 yellow onion, very finely chopped (but not processed; you don’t want it to get watery)
  • 1/4 c olive oil, plus a bit extra for greasing your baking dish
  • 15 cloves of garlic (yes, 15!) processed or chopped very fine
  • 1/2 tsp regular or hot paprika (depends on whether or not you want it spicy)
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 oz tomato paste
  • 4 or 5 ~4-oz portions of your favorite protein (I used four tilapia filets)

First, place the onion and olive oil in a frying pan, and cook them on medium heat until the onion is translucent. While that’s going (or after, depending on how closely you can watch things on the stove), the second step is to combine all of the spices and the garlic in a small bowl. You’ll get a tough paste; next, add the water to thin it out a bit, mixing well so that it’s uniform throughout.

Once the onion is cooked, add the spice paste and the tomato paste to your frying pan, and stir both in with the onion. Cook the whole thing together on low heat for at least 3 minutes. If you would like to cook it down a bit more, you’ll need to add some more water. You can keep it cooking for as long as a half hour, but mine came out really well after cooking for only 3 minutes, because the chraimi has more time to come together anyway while it bakes along with the fish.

Next, grease your favorite oven-safe baking dish (I used a glass one, and rubbed an olive-oiled paper towel over the inside). Now lay your protein out in the dish, without overlap, and spread the chraimi generously and evenly on top of each protein portion. Last, bake your protein until it’s fully cooked (this depends on what you’re making; the tilapia filets I used were fairly thin, so I put them in at 400°F for 10-12 minutes). Consult The Google for tips on the best times and temperatures for baking all manner of things!

This recipe serves four or five people. It goes really well with Israeli salad!

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