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Sephardic Passover fish in tomato sauce recipe

Sephardic Passover fish in tomato sauce recipe

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  • Ingredients
  • Seafood
  • Fish

These cod fillets in a piquant red sauce of tomatoes, pimentos, veg, herbs and lemon are a traditional Sephardic Jewish Passover dish served hot with the Passover meal, or cold the next day.

7 people made this

IngredientsServes: 6

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 225g jarred roasted red peppers, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 785g passata
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 sticks celery, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • water
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 6 (85g) cod fillets
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar

MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:20min ›Ready in:35min

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Add the parsley, roasted peppers, salt, pepper, passata and fresh tomatoes and bring to the boil. Add carrots, celery and garlic. Cook until carrots are cooked, but still firm.
  2. Stir in a little water and juice of 1 lemon. Place fish into pan without stirring. Baste fish with liquid. Add sugar.
  3. When the fish is cooked, remove from heat. Let cool and serve cold.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(5)

Reviews in English (4)


While making this, I reduced both the puree and the tomatoes by 1/2 and was glad I did. Fish was good, flavorful and very tender (but not too tomato-y). My husband enjoyed it, and he's usually hard to please. If I made it again, I would keep the same changes, and also add a bit of cayenne pepper.-22 Mar 2004

by Ren Causley

This was ok I did not use the permento's did not have them, it came out a little watery but had a good flavor just needed to be thicker, thanks for the recipe-05 Oct 2009


very good, perfect for the summer. I could have stood just a bit more flavor but I am not sure how exactly. A wonderful health addition to anyone's summer menu.-26 Apr 2005

Sephardic Fish in Peppery Tomato Sauce

This easy and delicious fish in peppery tomato sauce is flavored with garlic, coriander, harissa, and piquant capers, bathed in a slightly spicy tomato sauce. It’s another one of those “Jewish” recipes you may not recognize as Jewish. In America we tend to think of “Ashkenazi” food as Jewish, call it a day, and forget about the Sephardim. This is a terrible mistake, since Sephardic food (Spanish, Middle Eastern, Portuguese, and North African) is spicy, flavorful, and has much more variety than its Eastern European cousins. In fact, one day, I want to skip the Eastern European Passover and have a Sephardic one instead! Goals!

I’ve adapted this recipe from The Book of Jewish Food , which says that fish is considered a symbol of abundance, making it a favorite dish for Friday night (Sabbath) meals. Fish was also popular in Morocco and Italy for weddings, as it was thought to symbolize fruitfulness. For Rosh Hashanah, it was served with the head left on, so Jews would be “ ‘ahead with good deeds and serve as a model of goodness. ’ ” I think this dish certainly fits the bill.

The nice thing is that you don’t have to wait for a holiday or a special occasion to make it. It’s ready in about 25 minutes, so it’s perfect for a weeknight dinner.

If you’re not familiar with harissa, it’s a hot chili garlic sauce used for fish, chicken, and lots of other dishes in North Africa. As I am writing this, it occurs to me that it’s a bit like African sriracha sauce. If you have some, or can get some, use it. If not, a mixture of cayenne and paprika will work just fine.

I also saw another, similar recipe (called chraime) that referred to this as Sephardic “gefilte fish.” Never having been a big fan of gefilte fish, I’ll take this recipe in a New York minute!

The dish will work with any firm white fish, such as grouper, red snapper, or cod. I used cod from Trader Joe’s (the frozen fish is inexpensive and good quality). Serve it with rice (as I did), or make it with couscous.

Fish with Rhubarb Sauce Recipe

2 cups rhubarb cut in small pieces
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt to taste
1/2 cup water
1 pound salmon, red snapper or sole, cut up

Instructions for the Fish with Rhubarb Sauce recipe:

  1. Wash rhubarb well.
  2. Peel off hard skin, if any.
  3. Cook all ingredients together (about 1/2 hour).
  4. When rhubarb is cooked thoroughly, add cut up pieces of fish.

Copyright © 1999-2016 Elimelech David Ha-Levi Web, All Rights Reserved

Busy in Brooklyn

I’ve talked a lot about mechshie (a Syrian dish of stuffed vegetables) on my blog, especially around the holidays. I decided to keep up the tradition, and for the third year in a row, I’m sharing a stuffed vegetable recipe in honor of Sukkot. The tradition of eating stuffed foods on Succot is symbolic of an abundant harvest season. Since the wheat is harvested in Israel during the fall, we stuff foods to symbolize our desire for an overflowing harvest. This is popularly done with stuffed cabbage, or holipches, which some say are also made to resemble the scrolls of a Torah.

Ever since I married into a Sephardic family, I can’t get enough of my mother-in-laws delicious mechshie dishes! I’m slowly learning to cook different variations, adapting my favorite recipe with the additions of tamarind, pomegranate molasses and different types of vegetables and dried fruit.

When I spotted beautiful globe zucchini in the market, I just knew I had to turn it into some kind of mechshie. The small, round zucchini were perfect for filling, and I decided to work in some tamarind paste, an ingredient essential to Sephardic cooking. It adds a hint of sourness to the sweet dish, a perfect pairing with the plump dried prunes.

Stuffed Zucchini Mechshie with Tamarind & Prunes

8 globe zucchini or 2-3 large zucchini cut in thirds

1 lb ground beef
1/3 cup basmati rice
3/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp water

1 15oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 can water
1/4 cup tamarind paste (available in Middle Eastern markets)
1/4 cup brown sugar
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp salt
1 10oz. container dried prunes

To prepare the filling, combine the meat, rice, allspice, salt and water in a bowl and mix well to combine (I like to do this by hand, using gloves). Try to handle the meat gently, don’t squeeze it too much as this tends to toughen it up.

Cut the tops off the zucchinis and scoop out some of the pulp with a spoon, leaving a thick border. Place all the pulp in the bottom of a greased wide saucepan.

If using regular zucchini, use a paring knife (or a long vegetable corer, known as a ma’vdeh), to core them.

Stuff the zucchini with the meat filling, taking care not to fill them too tightly as the rice will expand during cooking. Place the stuffed zucchini’s in the pot, and place prunes all around.

In a bowl, combine the sauce ingredients. Pour the sauce over the zucchini. Cover the pot and bring the liquid up to a boil over high heat. Lower the flame and simmer for 1-2 hours.

NOTE: If you have leftover meat filling, roll it into small meatballs and place in the pot alongside the zucchini.

Meat & Rice Stuffed Baby Eggplants

As we approach the last days of the holiday of Sukkot, I wanted to share a nontraditional “stuffed” recipe, for those looking for a change from traditional holipches/holishkes (stuffed cabbage). If you’ve always wondered why Hungarian style stuffed cabbage is served up on Sukkot, it’s because we want to celebrate the abundance of the harvest season. Fall is when farmers harvest their wheat in Israel, and stuffing vegetables with filling symbolizes their desire for a year of overflowing harvest. Although it is customary for many to eat stuffed cabbage, any stuffed recipe is well suited to honor this custom. You can stuff grape leaves, zucchini, peppers, or even fruit for dessert!

As I mentioned in this post, I was first introduced to the idea of mechshie when I married into a sephardic family. My mother in law taught me to prepare various dishes of meat & rice filled vegetables – each with it’s own unique flavor. Having grown up with these traditional Syrian dishes, my husband loves when I surprise him by making them. Although my twist on tomato & zucchini mechshie (which I’ve dubbed “mechshie ratatouille”) is my all time favorite, this lighter stuffed eggplant version is a close second.

If you want to go the traditional route, but you’re overwhelmed by the idea of making stuffed cabbage, try my Bubby’s cabbage soup with flanken. It tastes just like stuffed cabbage, without all the work! You can even leave out the flanken and make mini meat & rice balls instead.

Meat & Rice Stuffed Baby Eggplants

1 1/2 lb ground meat
2/3 c rice (I prefer basmati)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp allspice
kosher salt, to taste

3 cups water
juice of 1 lemon
1 head garlic, peeled
2 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt, to taste

To prepare the filling, combine the meat, rice, allspice, salt and water in a bowl and mix well to combine (I like to do this by hand, using gloves). Try to handle the meat gently, don’t squeeze it too much as this tends to toughen it up.

Slice the eggplants at both ends and core them using a paring knife (or a long vegetable corer, known as a ma’vdeh). Place all the pulp from the insides of the eggplants into a strainer and sprinkle generously with salt. Allow the pulp to rest for 20-30 minutes (this draws out the bitter liquid). Rinse the pulp with water to remove salt and add to the bottom of a wide saucepan.

Stuff the eggplants with the meat filling, taking care not to fill them too tightly as the rice will expand during cooking. Place them in the pot, sprinkling the garlic cloves all around. Drizzle the eggplants with olive oil, lemon juice and sprinkle with salt. Pour water into the pan, cover the pot and bring the liquid up to a boil over high heat. Lower the flame and simmer for 1-2 hours. For the last 30 minutes, uncover the pot and cook until the liquid reduces to a thick sauce.

NOTE: If you have leftover meat filling, roll it into small meatballs and place in the pot alongside the eggplant.

Meat & Rice Stuffed Vegetables

Growing up in an ashkenazic home, it just wasn’t succos without my mother’s holishkes (stuffed cabbage). I had never even heard of sephardic dishes like stuffed grape leaves or eggplants until I married into a sephardic family. My mother in law loves to prepare authentic Syrian dishes like mehshie (pronounced mechshie). She stuffs everything from artichokes to onions, each with it’s own unique twist.

After being married for a few years, I finally decided to learn how to prepare some of her signature dishes, so I could make them for my husband. She lovingly shared her family recipes, teaching me how to prepare each and every dish. When two of the recipes seemed similar, I asked her why I couldn’t combine them. I soon learned that the mere thought of combining two types of stuffed vegetables was deemed sacrilegious!

Of all my mother-in-laws mehshi recipes, stuffed zucchini’s is my favorite. It’s simmered along with dried apricots in a sweet tomato broth. The apricots become melt-in-your-mouth soft, and together with the zucchini pulp, create a delicious sweet and tangy sauce. Tomato mehshi is treated in the same way, and being my husband’s favorite, I decided to combine the two in one pot. I also opted out of the dried mint, because in my world, mint and meat just don’t mix. Although this dish is a heresy to my mother-in-laws traditional culinary roots, it is a delicious modern twist on a old world custom of eating stuffed foods on the holiday of Succos. So lets get stuffing!

Chraime is traditionally prepared by Sephardic Jews (such as Moroccan Jews and Israeli Jews of North African origin). It is typically prepared and eaten on Friday night for Shabbat dinner. Our family tradition also includes it for breaking the Purim fast.

The recipe is very simple but the flavor is out of this world! You can make it very quickly. It only requires a few simple ingredients. Garlic, olive oil, paprika, tomatoes, cilantro and of course the star of the show, the fish.

You can use canned diced tomatoes or fresh tomatoes. The traditional fish to use is a flaky white fish such as cod, haddock, halibut perch, whiting, or flounder. However, you can also use salmon just as well. I prefer fresh fish, but often use frozen filets with great success. Whichever fish you decide to use, the result is failproof.

You want to start by making the sauce. In saucepan, add oil and sauté garlic and paprika. Reduce to low-medium heat and add water and tomato. Simmer for 15 minutes. (If you prefer a rustic smoky flavor, heat the pan, then toast the paprika powder for 20-30 seconds first.)

Add the fish in a single layer over the sauce. Sprinkle the cilantro, cover and simmer for another 15 minutes. Remove, salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

I hope you enjoy this staple dish from Morocco. Share it with family and friends.

Gefilte fish, the Sephardic way

Spring produce is in the stores and the choices are plentiful. Asparagus, artichokes, leeks and zucchini are among some of the delicious vegetables you can build your meals around. A good idea is to prepare mains of soups, roasted chickens or beef. These can be made in advance. Sides and salads can be prepared just before the meal. There are endless recipes for potatoes that are great fillers. Utilize the sweet potato. It is the healthiest vegetable in the world and contains the least amount of carbohydrates.

My son’s favorite food on Passover is my Sephardic fish balls. I would prepare this dish for my children as soon as they were eating solids, as it is very nutritious and what kid doesn’t like tomato sauce? The fish preparation is similar to gefilte fish as it uses white fish and pike with the addition of eggs, matzo meal and seasonings. The main difference is that I prepare small fish patties in a flavorful tomato sauce. The key to making this dish successfully is to buy fresh fish and cook it the same day.

You can make the patties into whatever shape you like. I form mine into little kebobs. I would suggest using a heavy bottomed wide pot so the patties can lie in one layer. If you have more than one layer of patties, cover the pot for a couple of minutes allow the patties to set and then continue to place the remaining patties on top. Do not stir with any utensils, but gently swirl the sauce around the patties while holding the pot's handles. This dish can be made in advance and even gets better the next day!

Sephardic ‘gefilte’ fish balls in tomato sauce

• 2 lbs fresh ground white fish & pike

• ½ cup bread crumbs or matzo mea

• ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

• 4 garlic cloves finely minced

• 1/3 cup parsley or cilantro

• ½ teaspoon chili flakes (optional)

• ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Prepare sauce first. Over a medium low heat lightly sauté garlic, chili flakes and spices. Add the tomato paste and combine with the garlic oil. Toast the paste for 2 to 3 minutes to enhance its flavor and begin adding water and stirring. Add enough water that you achieve the consistency that you like. Simmer for half hour. Add parsley.

For best results, use fresh fish and keep cold at all times. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients well. Wet your hands with water or a little oil and using about 2 tablespoons form fish into patties. I shape mine like little kebobs. This step can be done in advance and covered, placed in the refrigerator until sauce is ready.

Place carefully in the simmering sauce, do not stack. If you have more than one layer of patties, cover the pot and cook for a couple of minutes for the patties to set and then continue to place all the fish balls in the pot.

Over a low simmer cook for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the oil separates and forms a ring around the edges of the pot.

Remove from heat, cool to room temperature and serve.

This dish is best served just warm, do not overheat.

Chef Margie Arosh is a personal chef catering Service and cooking school. She is also the chairman of the “UJA Food for Thought Program”.

Kaskarikas (Zucchini Peel Salad)

Emma Alkota, originally from Istanbul, Turkey recipe for Zucchini Peel Salad for Passover/ (Photo: Jim Alcorn/Special to

Courtesy of Emma Alkota Pilosof of North Bergen

6 medium zucchini, well cleaned
½ cup vegetable oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp salt or to taste
Pepper to taste

With a knife, peel the zucchini lengthwise leaving some of the flesh on the peel, about 1/16 inch thick. Cut the peels into one-inch slices.
Mix the remaining ingredients and simmer in a saucepan, covered, for about 10 minutes or until cooked. Serve chilled as an appetizer.
Serves: 3-4 as an appetizer

Saute onions in oil over medium high heat until translucent.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the carrots. After the carrots have softened a bit, add the spices, the can of tomatoes, the dried fruit and the water. Raise the temperature and bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer.

For Frozen Gefilte Fish

Add frozen fish loaf according to the instructions on their package which will likely be something like the following.

Return to boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cook for 90 minutes covered. Refrigerate. Remove paper, slice and serve at room temperature.

For Jarred Gefilte Fish

After simmering the tomato stock for about an hour follow this recipe.

(This is cheating for those of us who don&rsquot have easy access to frozen gefilte fish.)

Open the jar and place the gefiltes in the tomato sauce for about a minute. Serve at room temperature.

Chakchouka (Moroccan-Jewish Salad)

8 large tomatoes, preferably peeled and seeded
1 garlic clove, slivered
1/2 cup olive oil
4 green bell peppers
1 small green chili pepper, optional
1 tablspoon sweet paprika
1 tablspoon minced parsley
1 preserved lemon, cubed, optional

Instructions for the Chakchouka recipe / Shakshouka recipe / Chackchouka recipe / Shackshouka recipe:

  1. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat and cook tomatoes and garlic in it, stirring frequently, for 15-20 minutes, until oil separates from tomatoes.
  2. Roast and peel the peppers and chili. Dice them.
  3. Add them to tomatoes, along with the paprika.
  4. Sprinkle with parsley (and preserved lemon).
  5. Serve at room temperature with bread, for scooping.

Makes 8 servings of chakchouka / shakshouka.

Copyright © 1999-2016 Elimelech David Ha-Levi Web, All Rights Reserved

Moroccan Fish with Chickpeas in Tomato Sauce

Moroccan Fish with Chickpeas in Tomato Sauce recipe is a definite crowd-pleaser. It's also very forgiving as the fish simmers in a rich tomato sauce that keeps it moist, yet permeates it with rich flavors.

This recipe is special to me because it has been handed down for generations. My mom makes it and her mom used to make it. It brings back great memories. But I'm also very proud of it because is has been the winner of the Kosher Cowboy's Top 10 Recipes of 2019 and 2020. (See all the contenders here.)

This recipe is a staple at every Friday night Shabbat meal. It's simple to make and kids love it. In the rare case that there are leftovers, you can store in the refrigerator for 2-4 days. It will also freeze well for up to a month or more.

I always prefer fresh fish to frozen. However, the beauty of this recipe is that it is very forgiving. Because the fish simmers in a rich tomato sauce, infused with garlic and olive oil, you can substitute frozen fish without any issue.

My grandmother's key to attaining a deep, rich and layered flavor was to lightly dry toast the spices in the saucepan. Do this before adding the tomatoes or chickpeas. I use a rubber spatula to move the blend of spices around while heating them, carefully making sure not to burn them. (If by chance you burn them or they start smoking, toss and retry.)

Immediately add oil, garlic, ancho pepper, bell pepper, chickpeas and diced tomatoes. Cover and bring to a boil for 5-10 minutes in order to soften the tomatoes.

Lower the heat to simmer and add the fish filets in one layer. Spoon the sauce over the filets then salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes until the sauce reduces halfway. Add the cilantro, recover and simmer for a few more minutes.

Remove from the heat, display on plate and garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve warm as a stand alone dish, with rice, noodles or couscous.

Moroccan fish in tomato sauce