Sea Bass With Chraimeh Sauce

Sea Bass with Chraimeh Sauce

Serves 2

Some might argue that the fish here is merely a vehicle for the red, hot and spicy sauce. But the envelope of skin on the tailpiece helps it keep its own identity. Nevertheless the sauce is indeed fantastic - and you might even double-up on the quantities of the sauce ingredients so that when the fish is done, you'll have plenty left to eat on dipped bread.


  • 2 servings of fish ideally on the bone. This recipe uses a tailpiece, but you could use on-the-bone steaks. Ottolenghi makes this dish with salmon.
  • 80ml (6 tbsp) sunflower oil 
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) plain flour 
  • Salt and ground black pepper 
  • For the chraimeh sauce: 
  • 3 garlic cloves roughly chopped 
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika 
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds dry toasted and freshly ground 
  • 5ml (1 tsp) ground cumin 
  • pinch cayenne 
  • pinch ground cinnamon 
  • ¼ green chilli roughly chopped 
  • 75ml (5 tbsp) water 
  • 20ml (1½ tbsp) tomato purée 
  • 5ml (1 tsp) castor sugar 
  • ½ lemon cut into wedges, plus 15ml (1 tbsp) lemon juice 
  • 1 small handful coriander roughly chopped 
  • 60ml (4 tbsp) sunflower oil 
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) plain flour 
  • salt and ground black pepper 

        Serve with couscous


  1. Heat 30ml (2 tbsps) of the oil in a frying pan; place the flour in a shallow bowl, season and coat the fish in it. Fry the fish on a high heat for 5 minutes, turning. The skin should be crispy. Set aside. Plan the cooking of your couscous.
  2. Place the garlic, spices and 15ml (1 tbsp) oil in a food processor and blitz to a thick paste adding more oil if necessary.
  3. Pour the remaining oil into the frying pan, heat well and add the spice paste. Fry for 30 seconds. Add the water and tomato purée. Bring to a simmer adding the sugar and lemon juice. Season. Add the fish and cover the pan with a lid (very important). Cook for about 12 minutes. Add a little more water if the sauce thickens too much. When the fish is done, remove it from the pan, wiping off any adhering sauce. Quickly use a sharp knife to cut through the skin lengthways along the top of the fish. The fillet on that side should lift away easily. If it doesn't return to the pan for a few more minutes. When the first fillet is off (you may need the knife or kitchen scissors to cut the lower skin at the bottom of the fillet), just lift the bone off the second fillet. The skin is tasty - leave it on.
  4. Place the fish on a bed of couscous with several spoonfuls of the sauce. Garnish with coriander and wedge of lemon. Serve with crusty bread.
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