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Polenta Crusted Fish Cakes with Spicy Tomato Sauce

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Polenta Fish Cakes

If you’re trying to work more fish into your weekly dinner repertoire, here’s a great way to do it.  If you’re trying to do it economically, this recipe also fits the bill!

I love the idea of serving little fish cakes instead of fish fillets.  It kind of disguises the fact that fish is in fact being served, especially when there are picky kids around the dinner table.  I’ll say this as well:  this cod is mild as can be and didn’t smell ’fishy’ in the slightest.

What’s interesting about these cakes:  they’re bound together with mashed up Yukon Gold potato instead of your usual breadcrumbs, which also makes them more palatable to finicky little people.  The fresh tomato sauce is quite delicious – and don’t be frightened off by the ‘spicy’ part.  I used a fresh jalapeno (seeds and ribs removed) and my sauce wasn’t spicy at all.

Hope you like them!

POLENTA CRUSTED FISH CAKES WITH SPICY TOMATO SAUCE
Serves:  4
Source:  Food & Wine Magazine, May 2011.  p. 107.  Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi

SAUCE
1 T. olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
4 large plum tomatoes, chopped
1 T. tomato paste
1/3 c. water
1 T. chopped fresh parsley
1 T. chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt to taste

FISH CAKES
3/4 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes (for me this was 2 medium potatoes)
1/4 c. instant polenta (find this on the top shelf above the dried pastas)
1 1/2 lbs. skinless cod fillets, cut into 1″ chunks (Sendiks Cod Fillets are on sale)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
2 t. kosher salt
1 1/2 t. cumin
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes

2 T. canola oil

Prepare the sauce:  in a large skillet, heat the olive oil.  Add the garlic and the jalapeno and cook over moderately low heat until fragrant, about 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and cook over moderate heat until the tomatoes break down and the sauce thickens, about 10 – 12 minutes (I let mine go 20 for a thicker sauce).  Stir in the tomato paste and water and simmer for 2 minutes longer.  Add the herbs and season with kosher salt.

Meanwhile, prepare the fish cakes:  In a saucepan, cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil.  Boil over moderately high heat until tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain well and mash the potatoes with a fork.  Cool slightly.

Spread the polenta in a pie plate.  In a food processor, combine the fish, garlic, parsley, cilantro, salt, cumin, egg and crushed red pepper and pulse until the fish is coarsely chopped.  Transfer to a bowl and fold in the potatoes.  Form the mixture into twelve 2″ cakes (1/2″ thick) and coat them with the polenta.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil.  Add half of the fish cakes and pan-fry over moderately high heat until golden brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer to a platter.  Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and fish cakes, adjusting the heat if the cakes get too dark.  Serve the fish cakes hot or at room temperature with the warm tomato sauce.

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Leah Damron is an avid home cook who believes in using the freshest ingredients available, and she challenges herself weekly to create meals out of (mostly!) sale items. If Sendik's ever gave a title for "Biggest Fan", she believes she would win, hands down. Leah lives in greater Milwaukee with her husband, three children, and her big black lab, Daisy."

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