This spicy fish stew has origins in the state of Libya with the name chraime deriving from the Arabic word for hot. 






Skill level

No votes yet


  • 185 ml (¾ cup) canola oil 
  • 7 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste 
  • 1 kg tomatoes, diced
  • 1 kg skinless firm white fish fillet
  • Thinly sliced flat – leaf parsley and challah (sweet bread), to serve 

Pickled red onion

  • 1 red onion, halved and very thinly sliced
  • 125 ml (½ cup) apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250 ml (1 cup) hot or warm water


  • 2 red capsicums
  • 500 g mix of fresh red chillies, such as long red, habanero, bird’s eye, tops trimmed
  • 3 garlic cloves 
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste 
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika 
  • 1 tsp cumin 
  • 1 tsp coriander 
  • olive oil, for drizzling 

Tahini dressing 

  • 125 ml (½ cup) tahini
  • 1 lemon, juice 
  • Salt 

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Standing time: 1 hour

  1. For the pickled red onion, halve and slice the onions as thinly as possible (I use a mandolin for this) and place in a bowl. Combine the vinegar, sugar, salt and warm water in a bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the pickling liquid over the onions, stir to combine well, then set aside for 1 hour. Just before serving, drain the onions.
  2. Meanwhile, for the harissa, place the capsicums over an open flame such as the stove top or a chargrill. Cook, turning occasionally until the skins have blistered and blackened. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and stand until cool enough to handle. Peel the capsicum and discard the seeds, then place the flesh into a food processor with all the remaining harissa ingredients. With the motor running, add enough olive oil in a thin steady stream to help blitz the mixture into a paste. It shouldn’t be too smooth – a bit rustic is ideal.
  3. For the tahini dressing, place the tahini, lemon juice and a good pinch of salt in a bowl. Add 125 ml (½ cup) water and whisk until smooth, adding more water if necessary to achieve a pouring consistency.
  4. Heat the canola oil in a large heavy – based frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and stir just until fragrant. Add the salt, paprika, tomato paste and harissa and stir for a few minutes, the add the diced tomatoes and 80 ml (⅓ cup) water. Simmer, stirring regularly until the tomatoes have broken down into a sauce.
  5. Lay the fish fillets in the sauce, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, without stirring, for 1 2- 15 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through.
  6. To serve, divide the fish between serving plates and spoon over some of the harissa. Drizzle with the tahini sauce, then scatter with the drained pickled onions and parsley.  Don’t forget to serve it with challah bread to mop up the sauce!



•If you want a larger serving, the chraime goes well with couscous as will any left – over sauce. 


Join Shane Delia and friends for A Middle East Feast on SBS Food and SBS On Demand.