A wonderful recipe from Ottolenghi's most recent cookbook, 'Jerusalem', which celebrates the rich, many-textured cuisine of his home city, in this deeply satisfying Syrian-Jewish fish dish. Simmered in a sweet and lightly spicy sauce these fish cakes, typical of Syrian Jews, manages to capture much of the spirit of Sephardi food. Moist, soft and delicate, they're just as good the day after they're cooked; just remember to bring them back to room temperature or warm them up before serving. It's delicious served with bulgar, rice or couscous, or just by itself with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of sumac.
Chopped fresh cod, onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, ground cumin, eggs and panko
Formed into 3-inch round cakes and fried in olive oil until browned, about 3 minutes each side
Placed into homemade tomato sauce and simmered covered for 20 minutes,
then allowed to sit uncovered for another 10 minutes
Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce
Recipe adapted from Ottolenghi 'Jerusalem'
3 slices white bread, crusts removed
1 1/3 lb cod, halibut, hake or pollock fillet, skinless and boneless - 462g
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 oz flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 oz cilantro, finely chopped plus extra for garnish
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 large free-range eggs, beaten
4 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 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
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp white sugar
2 tbsp mint leaves, roughly chopped
salt and black pepper
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp sumac
To make the tomato sauce, start by heating the olive oil in a very large frying pan for which there is a lid, and add the spices and onion. Cook for 8-10 minutes until the onion is completely soft. Add the wine and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chilli, garlic, sugar, ½ tsp of salt and some black pepper and simmer for about 15 minutes, until it becomes quite thick, then 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, apart from the olive oil. Mix well and then, using your hands, shape the mixture into compact cakes, about 3/4-inch thick and 3-inches round. The mixture should make 8 cakes. If they are very soft, refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm them up.
Heat up half of the oil in a frying pan and sear the cakes for 3 minutes on each side, so they colour well. Add the remaining oil as you fry the remaining cakes. Place the seared cakes gently, side by side, in the tomato sauce. Add enough water to partially cover the cakes, about 3/4 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.