1/3 cup (80 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
7 to 8 cloves garlic, diced
1 tablespoon diced small hot red pepper like habanero, Scotch bonnets, or cayenne
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground caraway
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 pounds (900 grams) arctic char, grouper, tuna, whiting, yellowtail, or bonito, cut into 8 pieces
1 roasted red pepper, sliced into lengths
2 tablespoons diced cilantro or parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy frying pan with a cover. Sauté the onion until golden, then add the garlic, tomato paste, and hot pepper and stir, sautéing for about a minute.
2. Add the 1 1/2 cups (355 ml) of water, stirring until the paste is dissolved. Then add the cumin, caraway, and salt. Simmer for several minutes, until the sauce is very thick. Taste and add a little pilpel shum or harissa if not hot enough.
3. The traditional way to prepare this is to slip the fish pieces into the sauce and spoon the liquid over it, adding a little water if necessary to create more sauce. Simmer slowly, covered, until the fish is just cooked through, or for no more than 12 minutes. You can also transfer the sauce to a baking dish and put the fish on top of the sauce, skin side up, and bake in a 450-degree oven for 10 minutes and switch to a broiler for an additional 2 minutes.
4. Using two spatulas, gently transfer each piece of fish with the sauce to a serving platter. Adjust the seasonings to taste, lay the red pepper slices over the fish, sprinkle with cilantro or parsley, and sprinkle the lemon juice over all. Serve either hot or at room temperature.
Yield: 8 servings as a first or 4 as a main course