grilled chicken
This chicken has zip, but isn't too spicy. (Photos/Faith Kramer)

Two spicy recipes to intensify your ‘Comfort Shabbat’

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After the sadness of Tisha B’Av comes Shabbat Nachamu, or the Sabbath of Comforting. Named for the first words of the week’s Haftarah portion, which exhort Isaiah to comfort the people, it starts at sundown on Friday, Aug. 4. Tradition calls for this Shabbat to be observed more like a holiday — with special foods and celebrations.

Either of these recipes will give your special Shabbat meals some zing. They both have bright and lively flavors that make a meal shout, but they also require advance preparation since they need time to marinate. Serve the ceviche as a first course for dinner, or as a Shabbat lunch. Leftover chicken also makes a good Shabbat lunch.

While my family finds spicy foods comforting and an integral part of a celebration, these recipes also are adaptable for those who do not. Use a milder salsa to rein in the heat for the ceviche. The hot sauce gives the chicken some zip, but it’s not truly spicy. See the notes after each recipe.


Salsa Ceviche

Serves 4 to 6 as appetizer,

2 to 3 as main course

1 lb. cod
½ cup fresh lime juice
⅓ cup fresh chunky salsa, store-bought or homemade (see note)
2 Tbs. olive oil
½ cup of ¼-inch tomato chunks
½ cup of ¼-inch avocado chunks
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Salt, as needed
Ground black pepper, as needed
½ cup guacamole, store bought or homemade (optional)

Cut fish into 1/4-inch pieces. Combine with juice, salsa and oil in a large glass or stainless-steel bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight, stirring occasionally. Just before serving, mix in tomato chunks, avocado chunks and cilantro. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. To serve, remove from liquid with slotted spoon. Serve atop salad, in a lettuce cup, with warmed corn tortillas or with corn chips or tostadas. Garnish with guacamole if desired.

Note: Fresh salsas are found in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores. The flavor of the ceviche will depend on the type of salsa used. I like to use one with a chunky texture, such as pico de gallo. For extra flavor, look for ones with roasted tomatoes and/or peppers. Choose one marked “mild” for a less spicy ceviche.

Grilled Chicken with a Kick

Serves 6

1 cup lemon juice
1 Tbs. plus 2 Tbs. vinegar-based hot sauce (see note)
1 cup vegetable oil, divided
1 tsp. paprika, divided
¼ tsp. ground cumin
2 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
4 lbs. chicken parts, with skin and on bone

In a large glass or stainless-steel bowl, mix lemon juice, 1 Tbs. hot sauce, ½ cup vegetable oil, ½ tsp. paprika, cumin and garlic. Cut excess fat off chicken. Cover and marinate chicken for 6 to 24 hours in refrigerator, turning occasionally.

Drain chicken, discarding marinade. Reserve 1 Tbs. oil for grill. Combine rest with remaining hot sauce and paprika to make basting sauce. Grease and heat grill to high. Reduce heat to medium high and add chicken. Grill, turning chicken occasionally and basting with sauce, until cooked through. (Alternatively, grease baking pan and bake chicken, basting occasionally, in a 350-degree oven.) Timing varies widely depending on size, thickness and type of chicken part used. Chicken should no longer be pink next to the bone. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Note: Use a hot sauce such as Frank’s Red Hot or Tabasco. The amount in this recipe is enough to give a little kick, but it’s not very spicy. For a spicier dish, choose a hot sauce with more heat and add more to the marinade. For a milder flavor, choose a milder variety or use less in the basting liquid. I used a medium-hot sauce.

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is Contact her at [email protected].