Saturday 31 March 2007

hraimeh - spicy libyan fish

This was a very easy recipe to make, if you ignored the instructions and just used them as a guide. For instance, the measurements are very strange “3/8 cup + 1 tablespoon water” and I found the cooking time for both the sauce and the tuna to be too long.

Just cook the sauce until the flavours meld and it thickens a little, then add the fish and watch it carefully. Tuna is very easily dried out so only cook it a minute or two on each side or you’ll end up with something very unappetising.

The cumin and caraway really added the North African flavour to this dish and the herbs finished it off nicely. I must admit I added a touch of harissa to the sauce as well, just to make sure it really was spicy.

This is another recipe I’ve cooked from The Jewish Kitchen by Clarissa Hyman. It’s a great book because it covers the diaspora and therefore has food from all over the world.

I don’t imagine this is specifically a Jewish recipe though, as many Libyans would make something similar.

This dish is pareve, so it’s a great, neutral recipe to have in one’s repertoire.

Hraimeh – Spicy Libyan Fish
Recipe from The Jewish Kitchen by Clarissa Hyman. Serves 4.
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/8 cup + 1 tablespoon water
Juice of 1 lemon
4-5 tablespoons tomato paste
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground caraway seeds
1-2 teaspoons red chilli (seeded/chopped) or hot & sweet paprika
4 tuna steaks
Fresh coriander and parsley, chopped finely
1. Mix oil, water, lemon juice, paste, garlic, salt, spices.
2. Pour into wide shallow pan and simmer 10 minutes.
3. Add fish and coat with sauce. Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes.
4. Top with fresh herbs and serve with lemon wedges.

This dish tasted pretty damn good and I imagine it could work just as easily with lamb or beef (these wouldn't be pareve) or even eggs as a vegetarian option.

The herbs I used, alongside mint, are very common in North African and Middle Eastern cooking. I have covered the properties of coriander before (and I plan to do parsley in the future), so instead I might just leave this short and sweet.

But if you want to read about some inventive food, check out my review of Interlude, a restaurant that was both unique and amazing!

Our WHB host this week is the lovely founder herself, Kalyn. Be sure to visit Kalyn's Kitchen for the recap.



  1. Sounds very tasty, and spicy! I'm kind of intrigued by the idea of ground caraway with fish. I like your idea of adding the harissa too.

  2. what an interesting dish. It sounds very spicy. :)

  3. Just thought I would let you know that traditional Libyan Hraimeh uses smoked cod instead of tuna and potato slices are added to the sauce.

    1. Hi Anon,
      Every family prepares it a bit differently. My in-laws NEVER add potato slices and usually use either tuna or buri fish. Potato slices sound good, though.

  4. Hi,
    I was searching for Libyan recipes and came about yours.

    My grandparents lived near the Jewish quarter in the old city were my dad, uncles and aunties grew up together with their Jewish neighbours and lived as brothers and sisters, hence we learnt how to cook many delicious Jewish dishes,as they were passed on to us.

    I am a new blogger and will post how I cook Libyan Jewish Haraimi.

    You have a great blog keep it up !
    Have a great day !

  5. The original cooking time is correct. Libyan Jews typically cook fish for an hour or more. They tend to like their fish a bit dry. I know this because I am married to a Libyan.


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