It’s finally feeling like winter now, in nearly mid-February, a few weeks after Mother Nature dropped a mammoth blizzard on my northeast neck of the US woods, which was quickly followed by our temps skyrocketing up the thermometer to quite a bit warm, like in the 50’s, for days and days on end. It was strange – that’s not the usual January weather up here, but whatever. My point is, there wasn’t much excuse for the typical cold weather comfort food we all know and love.
I mean, if you’re not even running the heat in your house, and you can enjoy the windows being cracked at night, then it’s extremely hard to justify things like beef stew, or meaty lasagna, or cream-based soups. However, it is still winter, despite what the thermometer might say, so a light crisp salad really wasn’t in order either.
Fish cakes are, I think, the perfect compromise. These are light enough that they don’t induce any guilt twinges, but a hearty tomato sauce and a soft, rich texture does serve to remind you that it ain’t the middle of the summer.
These are some of the better fish cakes I’ve had. We love crab cakes around here, but fish cakes make fewer appearances. That might have to change! The texture on these babies was so unbelievably perfect. Soft, rich, with just the right amount of chew. Also, they were SO easy to work with. Not too sticky, not too dry, they packed together properly… oh, and they reheat well too, as an added plus! Enjoy!
Source: Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi
3 slices stale white bread, crumbled or blitzed in a food processor to make bread crumbs
1 1/3 lb. cod, skin and pin bones removed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbs ground cumin
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
4 tbs olive oil
2 tbs olive oil
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 medium onion, chopped
½ cup dry white wine
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tsp crushed red chile flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp sugar
2 tbs mint leaves, chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
First, make the CAKES: chop the fish very finely and place in a large mixing bowl along with the bread crumbs and the remaining cod cake ingredients except for the olive oil. Mix together well, then, using your hands, shape the mixture into compact cakes about ¾-inch thick and 3 ¼ inches in diameter. You’ll have 8 cakes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up.
While the cakes are refrigerating, make the SAUCE: heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet or frying pan for which you have a lid. Add the spices and onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onion is completely soft. Add the wine and simmer 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chile flakes, garlic, sugar, ½ tsp salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Simmer about 15 minutes, until pretty thick. Taste to adjust the seasoning.
Remove the cakes from the refrigerator. Heat half the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Once very hot, add half the cakes and sear 2-3 minutes per side. Repeat with the other half of the oil and the cakes.
Gently place the seared cakes side by side in the tomato sauce. Add just enough water to cover the cakes partially, a scant 1 cup. Cover the pan with its lid and simmer over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the cakes settle, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the mint and serve warm.