Braised Fish With Spicy Tomato Sauce


A great recipe isn’t just a roadmap to dinner, it also teaches something about the best way to cook. Case in point, this simple braised fish recipe inspired by Chraime, a North African dish with Sephardic roots, combines a spiced tomato sauce with spinach, cod, and couscous. Rather than having to wash bunches of greens, you’ll just swap in frozen spinach. Time saved. And, poaching cod isn’t just a foolproof method for easy fish cooking, it also results in tender fillets that are evenly cooked. Smart. Better yet, any frozen white fish fillets like sole, flounder, snapper, or wild Alaska pollock work well here and are easy to find in frozen packs at the grocery store. Finally, spooning the juices and fish atop fluffy couscous? It’s not just tasty as can be, it stretches the meal further. These are the type of key steps that make recipes like this one a keeper.

Hands On Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
25 mins
4 serves
Braised Fish With Spicy Tomato Sauce Recipe
Greg DuPree


  • 1 tablespoon paprika

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander

  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 4 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped

  • ¼ cup tomato paste

  • 5 ounces frozen chopped spinach (from a 10-oz. pkg.)

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 frozen skinless cod fillets or other white fish, such as sole, flounder, snapper, or wild Alaska pollock (about 1½ lb. total)

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

  • Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving

  • Cooked couscous, for serving


  1. Mix paprika, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne in a small bowl. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add paprika mixture and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until darkened, about 1 minute. Stir in spinach, 1½ cups water, sugar, salt, and several grinds of pepper; cover and bring to a simmer over medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up spinach with a spoon until spinach is dispersed, 3 to 4 minutes.

  2. Nestle fish in sauce and return to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook, covered, until fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork, 5 to 10 minutes depending on thickness. Top with lemon zest and cilantro and serve with couscous.

Chef's Notes

  1. Frozen chopped spinach is the easiest way to add greens to just about anything simmering on the stove.
  2. This versatile, North African–inspired dish works with whatever flaky white fish you prefer.
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