On my last trip to Israel, I spent a few days at Uri Buri’s Efendi Hotel, renovated from two Pasha’s palaces in the old city of Akko. I had heard of the legendary Uri Buri, a larger-than-life presence whose name is synonymous with seafood and fish; in the hotel’s restaurant, of course also called Uri Buri, we tasted his creations such as mackerel with eggplant and salmon with wasabi ice cream. While we ate, he came to join us, sharing stories about the comings and goings from the port of Akko, from the Bible to modern times.
One of the tastiest dishes was what the master calls “Uri Buri’s chraime.” Chraime, also called aharaime, is a spicy fish dish served by Libyan Jews, and many other North Africans from Tunisia and Algeria, almost every Friday night for Shabbat dinner. His version uses paprika and hot peppers. What is beautiful about this dish is that you can prepare it ahead of time and then let it sit, as you want to eat it at room temperature.
Joan Nathan is Tablet Magazine’s food columnist and the author of 10 cookbooks including King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.