A standout recipe from Ottolenghi's most recent cookbook, Jerusalem, which celebrates the rich, many-textured cuisine of his home city, is this deeply satisfying Syrian-Jewish fish dish. Like many of his recipes it takes a while to prepare but the results justify the effort – and it's even tastier the day after. ottolenghi.co.uk
Codcakes in tomato sauce
Serve with bulgar, rice, couscous or bread, alongside sautéed spinach or Swiss chard.
white bread, crusts removed 3 slices
cod (sustainably sourced), halibut, hake or pollock fillet, skinless and boneless 600g
medium onion 1, finely chopped
garlic cloves 4, crushed
flat-leaf parsley 30g, finely chopped
coriander 30g, finely chopped
ground cumin 1 tbsp
salt 1 tsp
large free-range eggs 2, beaten
olive oil 4 tbsp
For the tomato sauce
olive oil 2 tbsp
ground cumin 1 tsp
sweet paprika ½ tsp
ground coriander 1 tsp
medium onion 1, chopped
white wine 125ml
chopped tomatoes 400g tin
red chilli 1, deseeded and finely chopped
garlic clove 1, crushed
caster sugar 2 tsp
mint leaves 2 tbsp, roughly chopped
salt and black pepper
First make the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a very large frying pan for which you have a lid, and add the spices and onion. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until the onion is completely soft. 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, until quite thick, taste to adjust the seasoning and set aside.
While the sauce is cooking make the fish cakes. Place the bread in a food processor and blitz to form breadcrumbs. Chop up the fish very finely and place in a bowl with the bread and everything else, apart from the olive oil. Mix well and then, using your hands, shape the mixture into compact cakes, about 2cm thick and 8cm wide. The mixture should make 8 cakes. If they are very soft, refrigerate for 30 minutes to firm up. Heat up half the oil in a frying pan and sear the cakes for 3 minutes on each side, so they colour well.
Add the remaining oil as you fry the cakes. Place the seared cakes gently, side by side, in the tomato sauce. Add enough water to partially cover the cakes, about 200ml. Cover the pan with the lid and simmer on a very low heat for 15-20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the cakes to settle, uncovered, for at least 10 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with mint.
Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, is published by Ebury Press, at £25. To order a copy for £16 with free UK p&p go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop or call 0330 333 6846