I’d initially marked this recipe in my beloved Jerusalem book many moons ago. It sounded kind of safe, easy and delicious – but really the reason I haven’t made it until now is lack of good quality fish in our local supermarkets. The fish needs to be good and meaty because there’s aren’t fish cakes in the traditional British sense – there’s no potato to bulk them out. This is pure fish and my god are they better for it!
The accompaniment of crispy okra was inspired by a post I saw on Instagram somewhere (my new obsession!) and I thought it was really quite a nice change. A great way to cook okra, which can be a bit tricky to get right. You could of course go to town with these a bit and add all sorts of spices to the semolina dust, but I kept it super simple. Nice!
You will need:
For the cod cakes
300g line caught cod fillets, very finely chopped up
1 tspn ground cumin
Handful chopped parsley
Handful chopped coriander
1 small white onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large free range egg
4 tbspns or so of breadcrumbs
Olive oil, to fry
Sliced mint, to garnish
For the tomato sauce
1 white onion, diced
1 tbspn ground cumin
1/2 tbspn ground coriander
1/2 tbspn paprika
1 tbspn ground caraway seeds
400g tinned plum tomatoes
1 crushed garlic clove
1 finely chopped red chilli
200ml white wine
2 tbspns capers
Punch of sugar
For the okra
Okra (around 30 okras)
Milk, to dip (around 300ml)
Semolina, to coat (around 5 tbspns)
Sunflower oil, to fry
1 – Start by making the tomato sauce. Heat a 2 tbspns olive oil in a frying pan and add the onions and spices. Fry for 8 minutes or so until softened
2 – Tip in the wine and allow to reduce for a few minutes, then stir in the garlic, chilli, tomatoes, capers and sugar
3 – Let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes while you get on with the cakes. Mix together the finely chopped fish with the herbs, seasoning, egg, garlic and onion.
4 – Bring the fish mix together to form 4 cakes, then pat/roll in the breadcrumbs – they will only provide a loose coating but that’s what you want (the aim isn’t to produce breadcrumbed cakes but just to encourage a little crunch)
5 – Heat some olive oil in another frying pan and brown the cod cakes on both sides. While you’re doing this, add the water to the tomato sauce and stir, then add the browned cod cakes to the tomato sauce. Cover and leave to steam/simmer for 15 minutes while your prepare the okra
6 – Pour the milk and semolina into two separate bowls and cut the stalk ends off the okra. One by one dip the okra in the milk then roll to coat in the semolina and set onto a tray.
7 – Heat enough sunflower oil in a frying pan to coat the pan with 1-2cm of oil and when it’s hot (ie a tester pinch of semolina sizzles instantly) add the okra carefully. Fry until golden on all sides and then remove from the oil with a slotted spoon.
8 – Drain the okra on kitchen paper and season them with salt. Dish up your saucy cod cakes which should now be cooked through. Serve with the okra on the side and mint scattered on top.