Ottolenghi’s Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

Yotam Ottolenghi's Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce ~
Ottolenghi's Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce is an earthy, comforting meal with a Middle Eastern flair! ~

Ottolenghi’s Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce is an earthy meal of tender fish cakes tucked into an aromatic sauce. Serve it with couscous and sauteed spinach…this is comfort food with a Middle Eastern flair.

Ottolenghi's Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce ~ earthy comfort food from my favorite chef! ~

When I’m at a loss for what to make for dinner I often turn to my well worn copy of Jerusalem. It’s one of 2 cookbooks that has the honor of sitting out on my kitchen counter 24/7. It never lets me down, and tonight’s meal is unusual and delicious. Fish cakes are a favorite of ours, and lots of cultures have their own version of this frugal dish.

This one comes from a Sephardic Jewish tradition and is flavored with wonderful Middle Eastern flavors like cumin, coriander, cilantro and mint. I can always count on Ottolenghi to give me a meal with complex layers of flavors that I haven’t experienced before.

Ottolenghi's Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce from Jerusalem ~

This recipe has two parts ~ the sauce, and the cakes ~ and you can do either or both of them ahead of time and cook it off when you’re ready. Ottolenghi claims these get better the next day. I’ll let you know, we’re having the leftovers tonight 🙂

TIP: There is a bit of chopping to do in this recipe, so do yourself a favor a get out your food processor to make quick work of it all. No need to rinse the bowl between uses.

Ottolenghi's Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce ~

The best fish cakes are so tender they fall apart at the touch of your fork (or spatula,) so you’ll need to treat these gently. They start their life as a wet mixture of fish, bread crumbs, eggs, and lots of herbs and spices. Then they gently poach in the most luxurious tomato sauce ever.

TIP: Ottolenghi suggests serving them with bulgur, rice, couscous, or bread along with sauteed spinach or Swiss chard on the side. We went with couscous which was perfect for soaking up all that tomato sauce, and frozen spinach…it was a wonderful meal.

Ottolenghi's Fish Cakes in Tomato Sauce is a comforting family meal with a Middle Eastern twist ~


Reader Rave ~

“I made this last night my husband love love loved it. He’s French and so has eaten a lot of good food in his life and declared this dish “fin” in taste (delicate and clever) and with spices that you could definitely taste but that aren’t overpowering. Another Ottolenghi winner. Thanks for posting this!”  ~Chris

3.55 from 94 votes

Ottolenghi’s Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce

Author Sue Moran


tomato sauce

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup 125 ml white wine (I used red because it was what I had)
  • 14 ounce 400g can chopped tomatoes (I used crushed)
  • 1 hot red chili finely chopped I used the seeds for added heat
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 tsp sugar I used 1
  • a fistful of fresh mint leaves roughly chopped
  • salt and black pepper

cod cakes

  • 3 slices white bread crusts removed
  • 1 1/3 600g pounds cod, halibut, hake or tilapia filet, skinless and boneless (I used tilapia)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 garlic cloves I used 2
  • a large handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • a large handful cilantro leaves
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 large free-range eggs beaten
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil for frying


  • To make the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the spices and onion. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the wine and simmer for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chilli, garlic, sugar, ½ tsp of salt and some black pepper. Simmer for about 15 minutes, the sauce will get thick. Set aside.
  • To make the fish cakes, put the bread in the bowl of a food processor and process until they become fine crumbs. Remove and put into a large mixing bowl.
  • Give the fish filets a rough chop and add the processor. Pulse until the fish is finely chopped. Remove to the mixing bowl.
  • Peel and cut the onion into quarters, add it to the processor, along with the garlic cloves, and process until finely chopped, add them to the mixing bowl.
  • Pulse the parsley and cilantro until finely minced and add them to the mixing bowl.
  • Add the cumin, salt, and beaten eggs to the mixing bowl and combine everything well. Make sure it's thoroughly and evenly mixed.
  • Use a 1/2 cup measure to portion the fish cakes. Pack the cup with the mixture, and then tap it out. Gently round the cake with your hands and place on a platter. You should have 7 or 8 cakes in all. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 20 minutes to allow them to firm up.
  • Working in batches, heat half the oil in a frying pan over medium high heat and brown the cakes for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Add the remaining oil to fry the rest of the cakes.
  • Arrange the fish cakes in the tomato sauce. Add about 1/2 - 2/3 cup water to the sauce, and bring the pan to a simmer. Cover, lower the heat and simmer on very low for 15-20 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with fresh mint before serving.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.


  • Cod and haddock can be expensive and sometimes hard to find. I used cheaper and more plentiful tilapia and was very pleased with the result.
  • Use a jalapeno pepper if you can’t find a hot red pepper.
  • If your frying pan doesn’t have a cover, use foil. 



thanks for pinning these delicious Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce!

Ottolenghi's Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce is an earthy meal of tender fish cakes tucked into an aromatic sauce. Serve it with couscous and sauteed spinach...this is comfort food with a Middle Eastern flair. #fish #seafood #healthydinner #dinner #easymeal #meatlessmonday #comfortfood #healthy #fishcakes

used for Ottolenghi’s Cod Cakes in Tomato Sauce (the photos are clickable)

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    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    September 17, 2020 at 7:06 am

    5 stars
    I also have been making these for years and love them. They are particularly good when you want to prepare dinner in advance because they are better the next day and are nice enough to serve to company.

    • Reply
      September 17, 2020 at 7:09 am

      My mouth waters just thinking about them 🙂

  • Reply
    July 7, 2019 at 3:38 am

    I’ve been making this for years and they are a crowd pleaser! But your use of the food processor will save me hours of chopping. I recall saying to my wife last time … remind me how much work these are next time … the processor will be a game changer. Making next week!

    • Reply
      July 7, 2019 at 10:23 am

      Oh good, you can never have too many fish cakes, enjoy!

  • Reply
    Chris Millet
    November 23, 2018 at 12:41 am

    I made this last night my husband love love loved it. He’s French and so has eaten a lot of good food in his life and declared this dish “fin” in taste (delicate and clever) and with spices that you could definitely taste but that aren’t overpowering. Another Ottolenghi winner. Thanks for posting this!

    • Reply
      January 15, 2019 at 3:41 pm

      Ottolenghi has such a genius way of combining simple, unexpected flavors, I love cooking and sharing his recipes 🙂

  • Reply
    Agoura Mom
    September 6, 2018 at 11:49 am

    Hi Sue, your cod cakes look amazing! I have made several versions of fish cakes in the past, but have never tried to reheat them . Can these be made ahead of time and then reheated for a pot luck dinner ? I’m concerned that they may dry out or become tough .

    • Reply
      September 7, 2018 at 7:51 am

      I think if you reheat them in the sauce I don’t think they would get tough, they’re so tender to begin with, I think they can handle it.

  • Reply
    April 19, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Hi Sue,

    Have a question….could you use a can of Salmon and make these ? I make salmon patties all the time……hard to find a good fish around here……

    • Reply
      April 19, 2017 at 6:16 pm

      Oh absolutely, fresh or canned would work.

  • Reply
    September 21, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    This is my kind of meal, how gorgeous, i just wanna admire it for 10 minutes hehe ! Love!

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    September 19, 2016 at 4:21 am

    Wow the color on these fish cakes is amazing. I love cod too and cooking the fish in that rich tomato sauce is brilliant. Love Ottolenghi’s recipes! This is a great one – thanks for sharing this beautiful dish.

  • Reply
    Just Jo
    September 17, 2016 at 2:07 am

    Me and Hungry Hubby love this recipe and have made it often. Ottolenghi is a fabulous recipe creator but my word, do I reign it in when it comes to the amount of oil he recommends adding to most dishes! Lol, don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of olive oil. Beautiful shots of a great recipe 😀

    • Reply
      September 17, 2016 at 8:23 am

      The oil in this one was very low, but I know what you mean…those Mediterraneans love their olive oil — good thing it’s so healthy 🙂

  • Reply
    Julie | Bunsen Burner Bakery
    September 16, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    These looks lovely – Ottolenghi never disappoints! Lovely photography.

  • Reply
    Sarah @ Champagne Tastes
    September 16, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    oh my goodness- I love this!! I cook fish in a tomato curry sauce pretty often, but I’d love to switch it up! How yummy- I’ll try to make this soon!

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    September 16, 2016 at 7:02 pm

    An absolutely beautiful meal! Love everything about it 🙂 One of my favourite cookbooks.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    September 16, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    This sounds absolutely amazing. I’m definitely going to be trying it.

  • Reply
    September 16, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    This is indeed a great recipe. I made it for s dinner party once. It was such a hit. As usual it looks like you’ve done a spectacular job. GREG

    • Reply
      September 17, 2016 at 8:23 am

      Thanks Greg, I bet your guests loved it!

  • Reply
    September 16, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    Love Yotam’s recipes, every single one. Will definitely have to try this one. Your presentation is gorgeous Sue, have a great week-end.

  • Reply
    September 16, 2016 at 11:50 am

    This sounds delicious. I was hoping it was from the Jerusalem cookbook, because that’s the one I have, though I’ve never made anything from it (my cookbooks tend to be neglected because I find so many good recipes on the food blogs I follow…). Now, if only I can convince my husband to eat fish…

  • Reply
    Platter Talk
    September 16, 2016 at 11:28 am

    An interesting twist on fish cakes for me, being added to a tomato based sauce in addition to a Mid-Easter flare. Thanks.

  • Reply
    Linda | Your Daily Food Choices
    September 16, 2016 at 9:50 am

    What a wonderful recipe! I’ve had fish cakes before, but never had them served in such a delicious looking and well seasoned tomato sauce. LOVE this recipe!

  • Reply
    April J Harris
    September 16, 2016 at 9:03 am

    I love Ottolenghi’s recipes too and this one looks amazing! Such lovely flavours and it’s so wholesome too. I like the idea of having the leftovers the next day as well.

  • Reply
    Suzy | The Mediterranean Dish
    September 16, 2016 at 7:41 am

    Sue, this is an awesome recipe…then again, I love anything Ottolenghi! Beautiful photos!

    • Reply
      September 16, 2016 at 7:46 am

      Thanks Suzy, I know I’ve always got a winner when I make one of his recipes.

  • Reply
    September 16, 2016 at 3:20 am

    These look wonderful. While I’ve been making my own fishcakes with pre-cooked fish for ages, I’ve only recently started making fish cakes, fish balls etc. with raw chopped fish. Everything in Jerusalem is fantastic, so I must try these!

    • Reply
      September 16, 2016 at 7:19 am

      I usually use cooked fish, too, and I liked that this used raw because they seems fresher and even more tender that way. I so enjoy leafing through Jerusalem, even after years of owning it – thanks for your comment Rachel 🙂

  • Reply
    Chris Scheuer
    September 16, 2016 at 3:17 am

    Ottolenghi comes through again! It’s funny, I have paged through that book many times myself but never noticed this recipe! It looks wonderful and I love the nontraditional (at least for us) combination of spices in the tomato sauce

    • Reply
      September 16, 2016 at 7:20 am

      That happens to me, too, I notice something new every time. It was the tomato sauce that caught my eye!

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s Recipes
    September 16, 2016 at 3:14 am

    I am drooling, Sue. Those could have been the prettiest fish cakes I have ever seen and not to mention that they are delicious!

    • Reply
      September 16, 2016 at 7:20 am

      If I can make Angie drool, I know I’ve done my job 😉

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