Ottolenghi’s Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

These cod cakes in tomato sauce from the Ottolenghi cookbook ‘Jerusalem’are one of the many recipes I cooked to convince some of my hardcore carnivore friends that a meal with fish can be as delicious and sometimes even more delicious than the red meat option. I have some friends who believe that a dinner is not complete without a piece of red meat. I’m not a vegetarian but I don’t like to eat meat every day. My husband is a meat lover too, but I like to think I convinced him with my cooking that it’s not necessarily the meat that makes a meal complete. Nowadays I can even get away with serving him a vegetarian meal twice a week. Getting away sounds like he doesn’t like it, but he assured me that he loves the vegetarian dishes I cook for our family. He sometimes even makes vegetarian requests now.

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

I have made these cod cakes in tomato sauce many times for dinner and they surely are a huge hit with everyone who eats them. People always ask me for the recipe afterwards. Calling these gems cakes though doesn’t do them justice in my opinion. Fishcakes are defined in the Oxford Dictionary of Food and Nutrition by chopped or minced fish. The fish is then mixed with potato, egg, and flour. The seasonings consist of onions, peppers and sometimes herbs and spices. The potato and flour are the main reason why I’m not really fond of the traditional fishcakes. They tend to make them dense and dry, while these cod cakes in tomato sauce are moist and succulent.

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

For this recipe, you can pretty much use any fish you like, but I would recommend a nice flaky white fish. I have made it with fresh cod or tilapia but I have also made it with cod from the frozen section. Though the fresh fish is better the frozen option is pretty decent if you need to watch your budget and can’t afford to buy fresh fish. Another great tip I learned from someone is before you shape and refrigerate the cakes, fry off a small piece of the mixture. Taste it, add seasoning if needed and add a little bit of panko/ breadcrumbs when it’s too sloppy.

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

By the way, these cod cakes in tomato sauce are perfect for freezing to save for a rainy day. When freezing them separately (without the sauce) be sure to put some greaseproof paper separating the patties. When freezing them with the tomato sauce make sure you defrost overnight and heat them up very gently. Be careful as this is one of those dishes that you will eat too much of and regret it later…………and then end up having one more…………

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

I always serve them with a simple couscous seasoned with salt, pepper, some extra virgin olive oil, some parsley (or coriander) and some slivered almonds for the crunch. The children always ask me to make broccoli to go with this dish. It’s their favourite combination.

Do you want to hear a lame joke about fishcakes?
A man walks into a fish shop with a fish under his arm and says “Do you have fish cakes?”.
The fishmonger says, sorry, we have no fish cakes today!
The man says: that’s a pity, ……… it’s his birthday today!

Thank cod 🙂 I’m better at cooking than at telling jokes, right?

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

4.75 from 4 votes
Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 20 mins
Total Time
1 hr 40 mins

Source: ‘Jerusalem’ – Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Servings: 4 people
Cod cakes
  • 600 g cod (or any other white flaky white fish) skinless and boneless
  • 60 g Japanese panko crumbs (or 3 slices white bread, crusts removed)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 150g in total)
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 30 g flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 30 g coriander, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • tsp salt
  • 2 large free-range eggs, beaten
  • 4 tbsp olive oil for frying
Tomato sauce
  • tbsp olive oil
  • tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 125 ml water
  • 700 g the best passata you can get
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • salt and black pepper
  1. Start with the fish cakes so they can firm up prior to frying. Chop up the fish very finely and place in a bowl with all the other ingredients except for the olive oil. When using bread instead of panko you need to blitz the bread in a food processor to form breadcrumbs. Mix well and then, using your hands, shape the mixture into compact cakes, about 2cm thick and 8cm wide. The mixture should make 8-12 cakes, depending on how big you want them. I always refrigerate the cakes for at least 30 minutes to firm up, but when you have time one hour is even better.


  2. While the cakes are firming up in the refrigerator you can start on the tomato sauce. Heat up the olive oil in a very large frying pan for which you have a lid. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5-8 minutes until soft and translucent on medium heat. Make sure not to burn the garlic. Then add the spices and fry for another minute. Add the water and keep simmering for another 3 minutes. Add the passata, chili, garlic, sugar, ¾ tsp of salt and some black pepper. Simmer on low heat for about one hour and taste to adjust the seasoning when needed.


  3. While the sauce is cooking add the remaining oil to a frying pan and fry the cakes for about 3 minutes on each side until nicely browned. Place the seared cakes gently, side by side, in the tomato sauce. Carefully add enough water to partially cover the cakes, about 200ml. 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.


Lamb Meatballs with Feta, Lemon and Mint

Meatballs are little globes of deliciousness that can be used in all sorts of dishes. Whether you like them fried, baked, glazed, or simmered in sauce, they are super versatile and inexpensive. It’s just a matter of taking some ground meat, add some seasoning and herbs, form it into little balls, and cook! This lamb meatball recipe with feta, lemon and mint is fabulous, but you can always substitute the lamb for another kind of meat if you don’t like lamb. If I had to name one recipe that is ideal for slipping into a food coma, it would be this one.

If done right the meatballs are juicy and soft. To achieve this juiciness and softness it’s very important not to overwork the meat mixture, and make sure to simmer them gently. I use the lowest setting on the stove.

First time I saw the intriguing mix of ingredients  in this recipe, I immediately wanted to try it. After tasting it I can now tell you that there’s a mouthful of incredible flavour in every bite you take of this dish! I can honestly say that I have never eaten meatballs in tomato sauce as good as these and I would love to be proven wrong. If you have a better recipe, please let me know…….

The meatballs are quick and easy to make, you just mix all the ingredients together and roll them into golf size balls. I don’t know about you, but I think there is something extremely relaxing about rolling the meat into little balls and browning them into perfection before you drop them into the delicious, rich tomato sauce. I told the kids they could choose what to serve them with and they chose a cucumber and strawberry salad and some crusty bread.


It is worth doubling up the quantities of the tomato sauce if you want to serve them with a pasta like spaghetti. You know what………….…..just thought of this, but you could also use this extra sauce to make a delicious lunch the next day. Simply heat up the sauce and then drop a few eggs in the mixture and poach them to perfection. Add a nice crusty baguette and you’re sorted. I will definitely do that next time I make them.


Once we were having meatballs for diner and my son asks me: mum, how much of this meatball is meat? So I tell him that about 90% of the meatballs is meat. Then he replied: So the other 10% is made of balls? Euhhhhh……..…….never thought of it like that. Luckily it did not change my way of looking at meatballs.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. If you try it, please let me know! Leave a comment, telling me what you think of it. You can also tag your photo on Instagram with @culyzaar or post it on my Facebook page so I can see it. I love seeing your takes on the recipes on my blog!

5 from 1 vote
Lamb Meatballs with Feta, Lemon and Mint

Source: Adapted from ‘Smitten Kitchen’

Servings: 5 people
  • 750 grams ground lamb
  • 1 large egg
  • 60 grams panko breadcrumbs
  • 60 grams crumbled feta cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • a Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 grams chopped parsley
  • 35 grams tomato paste
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (for browning)
Tomato sauce
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic clove, minced
  • 35 grams tomato paste
  • 800 grams (2 cans) of crushed or pureed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinches of red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 75 grams pitted, chopped kalamata olives, plus more for garnish
  • 5 grams thinly sliced mint leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 5 grams chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 30 grams crumbled feta, for garnish
  1. In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients except the oil. I like to do this with a fork. Form the mixture into golf ball sized meatballs. Oil your hands so the meat doesn’t stick to your fingers. Always roll them lightly so they just hold together but they aren’t compressed to much. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes to set.
  2. While the meatballs set in the fridge, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and put it on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and let it "brown" in the pan. By doing this and sauteing it with the onions, you can boost the flavour of this dish in a big way. This method caramelizes the natural sugars in the tomato paste, making the sauce sweet and delicious. Then you add a little water to the pan and scrape up any bits stuck to the pan. Add the tomatoes and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook at the lowest setting for 30 minutes.
  3. While the sauce is cooking you heat a little oil over a medium-high heat in a large frying pan and brown the meatballs. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Leave space so you can gently turn the meatballs around so they brown on all sides. You can fry the meatballs until cooked through but I prefer to finish them in the sauce. Once they are all browned, remove carefully with tongs and set aside on a plate. Repeat with the rest of the meatballs.
  4. Add the oregano, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper flakes, olives, mint and parsley to the tomato sauce. Then add the browned meatballs, cover the pan and cook again at the lowest simmer for another 30 minutes. By then the meatballs should be cooked through.
  5. Before serving you sprinkle the meatballs with feta, parsley, olives and mint and serve immediately. We served this with a cucumber and strawberry salad and some crusty baguette to mop up all the delicious tomato sauce.