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

3.63 from 100 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!

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