Yotam Ottolenghi’s Fish Koftas in Ancho Chilli and Tomato Sauce

Serves: 4

The genius Yotam Ottolenghi’s latest book – Test Kitchen, Shelf Love – was one of my presents for Nat this Christmas just gone.

We’re spending the week post-Christmas, laying low. Waking up late, cooking or eating out, opening a Champagne each day no later than 1.

I kicked it off with this recipe last night.

It is just excellent.

With fluffy white rice and yoghurt to cool the spice kick, it is unique and particularly moorish.

The sauce can be made a day or two ahead meaning it is only a matter of frying the koftas when you need them.

Could not be easier. Could not be better for a lazy night in.

Cold beer essential.

And Merry Christmas 2021. Stay safe.

Ingredients

For the koftas

500gm firm sustainable white fish (e.g. cod, though we used barramundi)
4 spring onions, finely sliced
10gm dill plus extra to serve
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 egg, beaten
30gm panko crumbs
3 tbsp olive oil

For the tomato sauce

1 1/2 dried ancho chillies, stems removed
2 tsp caraway seeds toasted and roughly crushed
1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and roughly crushed
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 onion, roughly chopped
60ml olive oil
1 green chilli, halved lengthways
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 – 4 plum tomatoes, skinned and roughly grated
300ml chicken or vegetable stock
2 tsp caster sugar
25gm fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper

Method

  1. For the sauce, put the ancho chillies into a small bowl and cover with plenty of boiling water. Leave to soften for 20 minutes then drain, discarding the liquid. Roughly chop the chillies, then put them in a food processor alone with two-thirds of the caraway and cumin, all the garlic, the onion and 2 tbsp of oil. Blitz to a coarse paste.
  2. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp of oil in a large pan on a medium-high heat. Add the ancho paste, green chilli and tomato paste and cook for 7 minutes, stirring often, until softened and fragrant. Add the grated tomatoes, stock, 200ml of boiling water, the sugar, half the coriander, 1 1/4 tsp of salt and a good grind of pepper and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Keep warm on a low heat until needed.
  3. Meanwhile, make the koftas. Finely chop the fish into 1/2 – 1cm pieces. Put them into a large bowl along with the spring onions, dill, chilli, lemon zest, egg, panko, the remaining coriander, the remaining caraway and cumin, 1 tsp of salt and a good grind of black pepper and mix well to combine. Form into 12 round fish cakes.
  4. Heat 1 1/2 tbsp of oil in a large frypan on a medium-high heat. Add half the koftas and fry for 2 1/2 minutes per side, until golden. Transfer to a plate, then repeat with the remaining oil and koftas.
  5. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Add the koftas, then turn the heat down and cook for 10 minutes, to cook through. Leave to sit for about 5 minutes then top with the extra dill leaves.

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