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.
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.
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.
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…………
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!
Source: ‘Jerusalem’ – Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
- 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
- 1½ tsp salt
- 2 large free-range eggs, beaten
- 4 tbsp olive oil for frying
- 2½ tbsp olive oil
- 1½ 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
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.
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.
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.