Halibut in chraime sauce (spicy Tunisian fish stew)

Halibut in chraime sauce (spicy Tunisian fish stew)

Total Time
40 min
10 min
30 min
It’s worth it here to use fresh tomatoes--they make the sauce taste especially good. Even if you’re making this with out-of-season tomatoes, they will cook to a saucy-jammy richness that you just won’t get from canned tomatoes. Harissa is a Tunisian spice paste made with peppers, chiles, and spices. It can vary in heat level depending on the brand, so start with a small amount and add more as you'd like, tasting as you go. Serve with rice to soak up the delicious sauce, with a simple green salad on the side.


Olive oil

2 Tbsp


4 clove(s), minced

Ground cumin

1 tsp


¾ tsp, smoked

Ground turmeric

½ tsp

Tomato paste

2 Tbsp


1½ pound(s), cored and chopped

Roasted red peppers (packed in water)

½ cup(s), chopped

Harissa paste

1 Tbsp, or up to 3 tbsp

Kosher salt

¾ tsp, divided

Uncooked halibut fillet

1½ pound(s), 4 (6-oz) fillets or steaks


¼ cup(s), chopped


  1. In large skillet, heat oil over medium-low and swirl to coat pan. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, just until beginning to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Add cumin, paprika, and turmeric and cook, stirring constantly, until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until it darkens slightly, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, red peppers, harissa, and 1⁄2 tsp salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down and become saucy, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Uncover and increase heat to medium-high. Cook sauce until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle remaining 1⁄4 tsp salt over fish. Nestle fish in sauce. Cover and adjust heat to keep liquid at medium simmer. Cook until fish flakes easily with fork, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Sprinkle sauce with cilantro.
  3. Serving size: 1 fish fillet or steak and about 1⁄2 cup sauce