Kid-friendly fish patties

There are so many techniques and methods that can be utilized to create tasty fish patties.

Fish patties in spicy tomato sauce (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Fish patties in spicy tomato sauce
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
There’s nothing like the aroma wafting out of a fragrant pot of fresh homemade fish patties to give you a boost of energy in the middle of the day. I don’t know one person, child or adult, who doesn’t smile when they bite into a meat or fish.
These balls or patties can be fried or cooked in spicy or sweet tomato sauce. Every method is acceptable.
There are so many techniques and methods that can be utilized to create tasty fish patties. They provide us with a great opportunity to bring out all our creative ideas, and add whichever spices, herbs or vegetables you’re in the mood for. Any way you make them, you’ll end up with a tasty treat that are great served with a side of rice, ptitim (small pasta) or potatoes. Alternatively, you can stick a few patties inside fresh bread, add your favorite creamy spread alongside some roasted veggies and, voila! You have a gourmet sandwich for lunch.
Learn more about Pascale's Kitchen here>>
Sometimes it gets very tiring trying to figure out which dishes to prepare for special holiday meals that the kids will also enjoy. When my children were young, I spent many hours trying to figure out ways to survive the ongoing battle of convincing my children that fish was tasty. In the end, I triumphed by creating scrumptious fish patties made with ground fish, which were fried and then cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. Each time I would try out something different to see which method my children liked better. What I found in the end was that they loved the ground fish mixed together with herbs, fried and then cooked in sauce that reminded them of their favorite pizza and pasta sauces.
This way, I succeeded in using lots of healthy green herbs and fresh tomatoes to make a dish that the children loved to eat. And once they got used to these fish patties, I was able to experiment with other recipes and serve a variety of fish dishes at our festival meals throughout the years.
Below you will find three of my most successful fish patty recipes. In two of them, the patties are cooked in spicy tomato sauce (one of which is slightly sweet), and one that shows you how to make fish balls that are best eaten right as they come out of the frying pan.
FISH PATTIES IN SPICY TOMATO SAUCE
Makes 6-8 servings.
Sauce:
¼ cup oil
2 medium onions, peeled, rinsed and chopped finely
5 cloves of garlic, peeled, rinsed and chopped
3 heaping Tbsp. tomato paste
1½ tsp. pilpelchuma (red chili paste)
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground caraway seeds
1 Tbsp. vinegar
2 cups water
Fish patties:
500 gr. Nile perch or other fish, de-boned and then ground or chopped
1 cup parsley, rinsed and chopped
¼ cup cilantro or dill, rinsed and chopped
2 onions or scallions, peeled, rinsed and chopped finely
2 slices of bread, soaked in water and then squeezed, or 4 Tbsp. breadcrumbs or matzah meal 1 large egg
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. white pepper
¼ tsp. spicy paprika
Oil for frying
Topping:
¼ cup chopped parsley
To prepare the sauce, heat ¼ cup oil in a large, flat pot. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until golden brown. Add the tomato paste, pilpelchuma, salt, caraway and vinegar. Stir, and then pour in the water while continuing to stir. Bring to a boil over a medium flame. Lower the flame and cook another 10 minutes.
To prepare the fish patties, put the ground of chopped fish in a bowl. Add the parsley, cilantro and onion. Mix, and then add the bread, breadcrumbs or matzah meal. Mix with your hands, and then add the egg, salt, white pepper and spicy pepper. Mix well.
Heat oil in a large, flat pot. Wet your hands and then take a bit of the mixture and form 3-cm. diameter balls. Flatten them a bit and then fry the patties on both sides until they’ve turned golden brown. Remove and place on paper towels.
You can serve the fish patties as is, or you can continue to cook them by placing them inside the pot of spicy tomato sauce. Make sure the sauce completely covers the patties. You can add up to ¼ water to sauce if needed. Shake the pot a little to make sure the sauce covers all the patties. Cook for 10 minutes. Serve hot with white rice or ptitim (pasta balls). Sprinkle chopped parsley on top just before serving.

FISH BALLS
Makes 35-40 balls.
1 large onion, quartered
1 medium carrot, halved
Handful of cilantro, rinsed well
Handful of parsley, rinsed well
6 medium cloves of garlic
½ kg. ground fish (any type)
1-2 eggs
2 heaping Tbsp. breadcrumbs or 1-2 slices of bread, soaked in water and then squeezed ½ tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. spicy paprika
1 tsp. baharat
Salt and pepper, to taste
To the bowl of a food processor add the onion, carrot, cilantro, parsley and garlic. Process for a few pulses until well mixed.
Pour the mixture into a large bowl. Add the ground fish, one egg, the breadcrumbs and spices. Mix well. If the mixture is too dense, you can add the second egg. Mix well and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Heat oil in a large, flat pan so there’s 1½ cm. of oil, as if you were going to fry schnitzel. Form 2-3-cm. diameter balls and fry them in the oil. Fill the pan with as many balls as fit and fry balls until they turn golden brown. Then, flip over and fry for another 2-3 minutes. When you finish one batch, remove and place on paper towels and fry the next batch. Serve hot with side dishes and a salad.

FISH PATTIES IN SWEET GARLIC TOMATO SAUCE
Makes 16 patties.
Fish patties:
1 kg. ground cod
3 slices of bread soaked in water and then squeezed, or 5 Tbsp. ground oats 2 eggs
½ head of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 bunch of parsley, rinsed and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped finely
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. spicy paprika
¼ tsp. cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
Oil for frying
Tomato sauce:
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
8 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 tomatoes, crushed or a can of crushed tomatoes
100 gr. tomato paste
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp. sugar or honey
Place all ingredients for the fish patties in a large bowl and mix well. Take a bit of the mixture in your hands and form patties with a diameter of 5-6 cm. Heat 2-3 cm. of oil in a shallow pan and add the patties. Fry until they turn golden brown on both sides. Remove and place on paper towels. Serve hot with salad and tahini.
To prepare the sauce, heat olive oil in a pan and fry the garlic for a minute, then add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, cumin and paprika. Mix and then add the water, salt, pepper and sugar. Mix and bring to a boil. Lower the flame and then add the fish patties. Cook for 2 minutes on each side.

Translated Hannah Hochner.