Fish cakes in tomato sauce

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

Fish cakes in tomato sauce

When I get my hands on a cookbook I really like, it's hard to resist cruising through it and trying a number of the offerings.  So it is with Ottolenghi's Jerusalem.  I like fish sometimes as part of a mostly whole foods plant-based diet and this is a great way to eat fish. Some may be aghast at the amount of fat that will show up when the nutritional analysis is done.  Remember, however, it's mostly from olive oil and many believe the Mediterranean diet is very healthy.

You can use cod, halibut, hake, pollock — maybe check the Monterey Aquarium's Seafoodwatch site.  I used halibut this time and it was a little weird chopping it up but it worked.  a sharpened knife really helped. And as you will see in the picture, the "non-toxic" nonstick pan did a good job of frying the cakes. 

Best to do this recipe, which I modified a bit, only if you have some time to hang out and cook. I realize that is just a fantasy for some. Try it in the future.

Servings: 4


  • 2 ounces whole-grain bread, crust removed, processed into crumbs
  • 1 1/2 pounds flaky white fish, chopped finely
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced coarsely
  • Small handful of chopped parsley leaves
  • Small handful of chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Tomato sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 14 ounce can of reduced-sodium diced tomatoes
  • 1 chili de Arbol, chopped or about 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Handful coarsely chopped fresh mint for garnish


  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet that has a cover.  
  2. Cook the onion and spices covered until the onions are softened, 5 to 8 minutes.  
  3. Add the wine and simmer until most has evaporated.  
  4. Add the tomatoes, chili, garlic, and sugar.  
  5. Cover and cook on low for about 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened a bit.  
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  7. Add all the fish cake ingredients to a large bowl except the olive oil. 
  8. Mix with your hands.  I used a 1/2 cup measuring cup to get approximately equal amounts of ingredients per cake.  
  9. Form them into patties about 3/4 inch thick. 
  10. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet being sure to wait until the pan is well preheated.  
  11. Fry the cakes until both sides are golden brown, maybe 5 minutes per side.  
  12. Fit them into the skillet with the tomato sauce and add maybe a 1/4 cup of water to loosen the sauce a little.  
  13. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. 
  14. Adjust seasoning, garnish with fresh mint and serve.

Nutrition information (per serving)

  • Calories: 470
  • Total fat: 22 g
  • Saturated fat: 3.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 160 mg
  • Sodium: 690 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 21 g
  • Dietary fiber: 4 g
  • Total sugars: 7 g
  • Protein: 42 g