Miriam's World Famous Hraime

HraimeMiriam's World Famous Hraime

Nope, that’s not a typo. Hraime is fish (usually sea fish) prepared in a thickish sauce called pilpelchuma, that originates in northern Africa, mainly Libya and Morocco. It has two great advantages: It’s really easy to make, and it’s really tasty.

You can make it in the traditional manner, which means spicy (read: HOT!), or you can prepare it without spice at all, as I usually do, because the girls in my family are not tremendous spice fans.

In Israeli cuisine, Hraime is considered a Mizrahi dish, which means it started out as a traditional dish prepared mainly by Jews originating from northern Africa, but it has now become so popular that it is loved by just about everyone in Israel. Traditionally, it is served as an appetizer before a Sabbath or holiday meal, but you can certainly serve it as a main dish as well.

This is a one-saucepan dish, which means it leaves a tiny clean up trail, and is perfect for those delicious camping meals prepared outdoors.

Give it a try when you're looking for a different fish recipe.

And be sure to have a nice, crisp baguette or perhaps some halla to mop up the sauce when you're done – some claim that the mopping operation is the best part of the meal.

These fish varieties will give excellent results: red snapper, sea bass, halibut and grouper (my personal favorite).

Ready to Enjoy Miriam's delicious Hraime?

Makes 6 servings


For the pilpelchuma paste:

  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons cayenne pepper (or sweet paprika if you want it mild, or half and half, or any variation thereof). For traditional hraime, go for the cayenne.
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the fish:   

  • 6 slices fish (1.5 fingers thick), retain the head (optional)
  • Water


Pilpelchuma sauce:

  1. In a small bowl, blend the garlic, cayenne pepper and salt until you get a paste. This is the pilpelchuma mix.
  2. Heat the oil in a wide saucepan, then add the onion, and saute until translucent.
  3. Add the pilpelchuma mix and saute for 1 additional minute
  4. Add the tomato paste and water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the sauce is reduced.


  1. Place the fish slices on the sauce, allowing them to immerse in the sauce. Add water to almost the height of the fish (do not cover the fish – we’re not making soup). If you have place, add the fish head which gives some extra flavor.
  2. Bring to the boil, and simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes, until the fish is cooked through (more or less according to the thickness of the fish slices)
  3. To serve, put 2-3 tablespoons sauce in plate, add a fish slice, and spoon some more sauce over.
  4. Serve with crisp baguette or fresh halla bread for dipping in the sauce.

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