When Ottolenghi was last in Edinburgh, for the launch of Plenty More (a couple of years ago now), somehow this recipe was brought up during the evening. He stated it was probably one of his favourite recipes and it comes from his Jerusalem cookbook, which he developed with Sami Tamimi.
If you haven’t tried out this cookbook, then I implore you to thumb through it when you next get a chance. It has a lovely fabric cover, which I think is perfect for a cookbook, and is a lovely read. Mine is completely filled with tape flags for recipes I have yet to try and those I must try again. Out-with Nigella’s Domestic Goddess Cookbook, which I still use regularly, this is the most used cookbook in my collection. I truly love it. I also love the recipes.
Like so many of Ottolenghi’s recipes, the ingredients list can be intimidating. It will usually take up a full column at the side of the page. Yet, I find the omission of any one ingredient can have such a huge impact on a recipe that it is worth seeking out everyone of them. (Although, I must confess, I have attempted a few recipes without the commitment of a random ingredient, to confirm its worthiness.) With these recipes as well, I find the majority of them are quite budget conscious – which can be a rarity for most cookbooks and most welcome at this time of my life.
The cod cakes themselves are nothing like the breaded fish cakes you pull from the freezer and place into the oven until they are all crisp. Even my home made ones are nothing like these. These are soft and have a lovely texture to them. More importantly, they actually taste like fish. There is no real filler in these, like the usual mashed potato to stretch out the ingredients. These are just beautifully seasoned and very satisfying ‘fish’ cakes.
There are two stages to the recipe, one is the tomato sauce in which they will eventually stew, and the cakes themselves. They also work very well reheated the following day, if that is of any consolation for the effort.
(Adapted from Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi)
- 2 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 1/2 tsp ground Cumin
- 1/2 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp ground Coriander
- 1 medium Onion, chopped
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) Dry White Wine
- 400g tinned chopped Tomatoes
- 1 Red Chill, deseeded and finely chopped
- 1 Garlic Clove, Crushed
- 2 tsp Caster Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Salt and some ground Pepper
- 3 slices (60g) White Bread, crusts removed
- 600g Cod (Hake, Halibut or Pollack can be substituted), skinless and boneless
- 1 medium (150g) Onion, finely Chopped
- 4 Garlic Cloves, crushed
- 30g Flat-leaf Parsley, finely chopped
- 30g Coriander, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp ground Cumin
- 1 1 /2 tsp Salt
- 2 large Eggs, beaten
- 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp Mint, leaves roughly chopped
Begin with the tomato sauce. Use a large enough frying pan, in which you can fit 8 cod cakes (If you haven’t a lid for it, I have used a sheet of aluminium foil in a pinch). Place the pan over the heat, add the olive oil to heat through. Add the onion, cumin, paprika and coriander, cooking until the onion is soft and translucent. Pour in the wine and continue to cook for a few more minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 15 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken. Set aside.
To make the cod cakes, use a food processor. Break up the bread into the bowl and process until you have a fine bead crumbs. Slice the fish into pieces, double checking for any bones, and add this to the processor along with all the other ingredients, except the olive oil and mint. Pulse until it is well blended. The mixture will be quite wet but should still keep its shape when you start making the cakes with your hands – if it is too soft, place it into the fridge for half an hour and try again. Divide the batter into 8 and form small rounds, about 8cm across and 2cm thick.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in another frying pan and add a few of the cod cakes, searing for a few minutes on each side until they brown. Top up the oil as you sear more of the cod cakes. Place the seared caked into the tomato sauce in the other frying pan, until you have them all squeezed in. Pour in roughly 200ml of water, until the cakes are just covered. Then bring the mixture to the boil, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes. Once the cod cakes have cooked through, remove them from the heat and with the lid removed set them aside to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with the mint before serving.
These can be served warm or at room temperature.