In this 20-minute, one-skillet dish, salmon fillets are cooked right in the full-flavored, spicy, tomato-based sauce.
Center-cut salmon fillets deliver weeknight ease with vibrant flavor in this recipe inspired by the Sephardic dish chraimeh, fish braised in a mildly spicy tomato sauce. The name comes from the word for thief and refers to the way the spice comes at the end of the sauce, sneaking up on the diner. We tailored ours to work with pantry staples and scaled down the amount of garlic typically used. Whole cumin and coriander, paprika, jalapeño and scallions rounded out our aromatics.
Technique tips: Cook the salmon skin-side-up to help keep it moist. After cooking, the skin is super easy to remove; just lift it off with a fork and spoon the sauce on top of the fillets.
Look for salmon pieces that are evenly thick, about 1 to 1½ inches. We liked our salmon cooked between 115°F and 120°F, which leaves the thickest part with some translucency. If you like it more well done, after simmering remove the skillet from the heat and leave the fillets in the covered pan until cooked to desired doneness.
Don't use fillets of widely varying thicknesses; they will require different cooking times. If unavoidable, begin checking the thinner fillets ahead of the thicker ones.
- Four 6-ounce center-cut salmon fillets, 1 to 1½ inches thick
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and light green parts reserved
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeño chili, stemmed, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, lightly packed
- Lemon wedges, to serve
1. Season the salmon fillets on both sides with salt and pepper. In a 10-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the white and light green scallion parts, garlic and jalapeño. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in the coriander, cumin and paprika, then cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2. Stir in the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a simmer, then nestle the fillets, skin side up, in the sauce. Reduce to medium, cover and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the thickest parts reach 115°F to 120°F.
3. Using tongs, carefully peel off and discard the skin from each fillet, then use a spatula to transfer to serving plates flesh side up. If the sauce is watery, continue to simmer over medium-high until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Off heat, stir in the mint and cilantro. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the salmon, sprinkle with the scallion greens, drizzle with olive oil and serve with lemon wedges.