Spicy Fish in Cherry Tomato and Harissa Sauce
Dag hareef, a spicy fish bathed in a flaming-red sauce that begs for a thick slice of challah for dipping, graces almost every In North African table on Friday night. In the Libyan-Tripolitan version, it is known as Chraime, the fish cooks in a minimalist sauce of oil infused with cumin, caraway, and lots of paprika. The more elaborate Moroccan version, which is what my aunt would make, contains fresh tomatoes, peppers, and an entire bunch of cilantro. Cherry tomatoes aren’t traditional, but they give this gutsy dish a touch of bright sweetness.
This dish is meant to be spicy, but how spicy is up to you. Start with half of the amount of harissa and chile, and fire the dish to your liking.
1/3 cup vegetable oil
10 garlic cloves, smashed
¼ cup tomato paste
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon harissa (store bought or see recipe on p. 26 of Shuk)
3 tablespoons best quality sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground caraway
1 ½ teaspoon cumin
2 pints cherry tomatoes
½ cup water
1 large bunch cilantro
6 portion size fish filets (grouper, bass, snapper, halibut)
7-9 ounces each skin-on
Freshly ground pepper
Pour the oil into a relatively deep, large sauté pan. Immediately add the smashed garlic cloves and cook on low heat just until fragrant, 3-4 minutes. Watch the pan closely to make sure the garlic does not brown, or it will become bitter.
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