Chraime is a traditional North African dish that’s also popular in Israel and other Middle Eastern countries. It’s essentially fish simmered in a thick tomato sauce. My mom prepared it only for the holidays and occasionally for Shabbat, but I make it all the time. The sauce—even the whole dish—can be done ahead, so it’s easy for entertaining or weeknight dinners.
To make my sauce more complex, I add spices, of course, but also diced lemon, rinds and all. The lemon pith lends a nice bite and intriguing bitterness to the tomatoes, which I cook only enough to retain a pop. Pronounced hraiy-may, chraime is a great introduction to cooking mild white fish like cod and halibut. There’s no risk of the fish sticking to the pan, and its mildness is infused with the tang of tomatoes. Just turn off the heat before the fish cooks all the way through, since the heat from the sauce continues to cook the fish as it sits.