Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

A Few Words…

This recipe is taken from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Jerusalem and is one that shouldn’t be missed.

Ottolenghi’s recipes usually require many steps, but I can tell you firsthand, they are well worth it. This dish has delicious Middle Eastern flavors and is in an aromatic tomato sauce. Besides, you can make the tomato sauce ahead of time like I did!

This recipe is even more flavorful the next day and is delicious served over rice, couscous or bulgar. Comfort Food with a Middle Eastern flair!

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

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Serves 4-6


Tomato sauce:

  • 2½ tbs. olive oil
  • 1½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 14 oz. tin chopped tomatoes (I used 19 oz. whole San Marzano tomatoes)
  • 1 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped (I used 1 tsp. dried chili blend spice)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tsp. icing sugar
  • 2 tbs. fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • Salt and black pepper

Cod Cakes:

  • 3 slices white bread, crusts removed (I used 3/4 cup panko crumbs)
  • 1 1/3 lb. of cod halibut, or pollock fillet, skinless and boneless (I used cod)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (I used a large handful)
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped (I used a large handful)
  • 1 tbs. ground cumin
  • 1½ tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 tbs. olive oil (for lightly frying and I used less!)

First make the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a very large frying pan for which you have a lid. Add the spices and onion and cook for 8-10 minutes, until the onion is completely soft. Add the wine and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chili, garlic, sugar, ½ tsp. of salt and some black pepper. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until quite thick, Taste to adjust the seasoning and set aside.

While the sauce is cooking make the fish cakes. Place the bread in a food processor and blitz to form breadcrumbs. Chop up the fish very finely and place in a bowl with the bread and everything else, except the olive oil. Mix well and then, using your hands, shape the mixture into compact cakes, about 3/4 inch thick and about 3-1/4 inches in diameter. You should have 8 cakes. If they are very soft, refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up. (You can also add some dried breadcrumbs to the mix, though do this sparingly: the cakes need to be quite wet. Heat half the olive oil in a frying pan over medium high heat, add half the cakes and sear the for 3 minutes on each side, until well colored. Repeat with the remaining cakes and oil. Gently place the seared cakes side by side in the tomato sauce: you can squeeze them a bit so they all fit. Add just enough water to partially cover the cakes, about (about a scant 1 cup). Cover the pan with the lid and simmer on a very low heat for 15-20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the cakes to settle, uncovered, for at least 10 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with mint.