Cod Fish in Tomato Sauce Recipe
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My husband has been asking me to make fish in tomato sauce for some time. He wanted it to taste like the canned sardines in tomato sauce that he had growing up in Ukraine. Of course this Cod Fish in Tomato Sauce recipe is far better since it doesn’t come from a can! He agreed. The fish is flaky and juicy and the sauce is legit. It can be served warm or cold.
The sauce is lightly tangy and sweet – we modified the sauce portion of this recipe from The New Ukrainian Cookbook. Oh p.s. have you tried capers? If you haven’t, don’t be afraid of them. For a loooong time I thought capers were scary – I’m not sure why, but it kept me from discovering them. They taste like salty mustard flavored pickles and they are a great addition to this dish. You can buy a small jar for $1-something.
pps. I purchased the cod at Costco. If you don’t have access to cod, I think this recipe would work well with other white fish.
Ingredients for the Tomato Sauce:
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
6 oz can tomato paste
2 cups vegetable stock
Seasonings: 1 bay leaf, 6 black peppercorns, 6 allspice berries, 4 cloves
Juice of 1 small lemon (2 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp capers
1 Tbsp honey
Ingredients For the Fish:
2 lbs cod fillets, cut into 3-inch pieces (drain well, and pat dry with paper towels)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt (I used sea salt)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup light olive oil or avocado oil, to sautee fish
Fresh parsley for garnish, optional
What you will need:
a cheesecloth, or tea infuser, or spice ball for holding spices.
How to Make Ukrainian Fish in Tomato Sauce:
1. In a large heavy-bottomed pan, melt 4 Tbsp butter and add finely diced onion. Cook over medium heat about 5 min or until onions are soft. Add 1 minced garlic clove, 6 oz tomato paste and continue cooking 5 min, stirring frequently, until tomato sauce starts to brown. Add 2 cups veggie stock and seasonings contained in a spice ball. Bring to a gentle boil then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 20 min
2. Meanwhile pat fish dry with several paper towels. In a shallow bowl, stir together 2/3 cup flour, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat and add 1/4 cup oil. Once oil is hot, quickly dredge both sides of fish in seasoned flour and place into the hot oil, working in batches if needed (don’t crowd the pan). Saute 3 min per side or until golden, and cooked through, adding more oil as needed.
3. Once sauce is done, remove and discard seasoning pouch. Add 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 Tbsp capers and 1 Tbsp honey and stir/cook another 2 minutes. Add fish and heat until warmed through, turning fish a couple times to coat. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve warm or cold. It keeps well for 2-3 days in the fridge.
Cod Fish in Tomato Sauce
For the Tomato Sauce:
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 6 oz can tomato paste
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- Seasonings: 1 bay leaf, 6 black peppercorns, 6 allspice berries, 4 cloves
- Juice of 1 small lemon, 2 Tbsp
- 1 Tbsp capers
- 1 Tbsp honey
For the Fish:
- 2 lbs cod fillets, cut into 3-inch pieces (drain well, and pat dry with paper towels)
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt, I used sea salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup light olive oil or avocado oil, to sautee fish
- Fresh parsley for garnish, optional
What you will need:
- a cheesecloth, or tea infuser, or spice ball for holding spices.
In a large heavy-bottomed pan, melt 4 Tbsp butter and add finely diced onion. Cook over medium heat about 5 min or until onions are soft. Add 1 minced garlic clove, 6 oz tomato paste and continue cooking 5 min, stirring frequently, until tomato sauce starts to brown. Add 2 cups veggie stock and seasonings contained in a spice ball. Bring to a gentle boil then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 20 min.
Meanwhile pat fish dry with several paper towels. In a shallow bowl, stir together 2/3 cup flour, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat and add 1/4 cup oil. Once oil is hot, quickly dredge both sides of fish in seasoned flour and place into the hot oil, working in batches if needed (don't crowd the pan). Saute 3 min per side or until golden, and cooked through, adding more oil as needed.
Once sauce is done, remove and discard seasoning pouch. Add 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 Tbsp capers and 1 Tbsp honey and stir/cook another 2 minutes. Add fish and heat until warmed through, turning fish a couple times to coat. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve warm or cold. It keeps well for 2-3 days in the fridge.
What were some of your favorite foods growing up? Let me know in a comment below. 🙂
Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review
What vegetables would you do for a side dish? I am going to use white rice but I use to a vegetable too.
Hi Karen, I like to serve it with asparagus, but most vegetables go well with this recipe. I hope you love it!
This dish looks delicious. Can it be made in the morning and reheated at dinner time? If yes, would you modify any of the steps? Or would it just be refridgerated once cooled and then reheated at 350 degrees in the oven?
Hi Flora! I think fresh is best, that’s how we eat it. It might be ok to reheat but I haven’t made this in advance to provide instructions. The sauce keeps well in the fridge for a few days.
Hi Natasha, love your site, sorry what do you mean once the sauce is done discard the pouch ? in your number 3 instructions. ? the tomato sauce ? thanks so much cheers. Ed
Hi Ed, see my blog notes above (and pictures) under “what you’ll need.” I mention the cheesecloth, or tea infuser, or spice ball for holding spices.
Hi, I wanted to make this recipe but I’m wondering what you’d recommend I serve it with. Rice? Pasta? Any suggestions? Thank you so much for sharing the recipe, can’t wait to make it …
Hi Anna, we love it with either mashed potatoes, rice or pasta! I hope you love it!
Wow! the flavour of the sauce is incredible! Thank you for sharing. This recipe is a keeper!
You’re welcome! I’m glad you enjoy it!
Really good!! Thank you Natasha!
Just for curiosity, I was wondering if I pass the fish in beaten egg and after I pass it in the flour Would this change something or will be the same as just pass it in flour?
Hi Rosy, it will alter the outcome a bit, but I bet that could work! If you happen to try that out, I’d love to know how you like that.
This was far better than I expected from reading other reviews. I was careful not to over cook the cod and luckily I succeeded. The moist, fried cod in the flavor bomb sauce was to die for. I think I’ll make it with haddock next time and take it up a notch.
Hello Mark, that is fantastic! So good to hear that you loved this recipe, thanks for your great feedback!
Thanks for another great recipe.
You’re welcome Meytal! I hope you enjoy this!
What is the name of this dish
Hi Natalie, I don’t have any other name for it besides what I named it in the post.
Hi Natasha, I use lots of your recipes but the best thing is my grandmas last name is Kravchuk! I live in Canada and my son was born here but he loves Russian – Ukrainian cuisine, Borsch one of most favorite, Thank you for the recipes, may be we could do Russian potato filled pirozkis with kefir ? thank you, Julia
Wow, what a small world! We love borsch at home, it is one of our favorites. Thanks for your suggestion, Julia. I will try to add that to our list.
Thanks so much for this recipe Natasha. I made it last night and it is by far the loveliest sauce I’ve ever tasted with fish. There’s a host of flavours going on in there which tastes amazing.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Nigel! Thank you for the wonderful review!
I’m going to try it tonite
I hope you love it!
I have to be honest with you, I didn’t think you can pull this off as sardines in tomato sauce from the tin are just impossible to make. That’s what I thought anyway….How wrong was I !!!!! Yours is way better than from the tins!! Thank you for sharing this recipe.
You’re welcome! I’m so happy you enjoyed it Magda!
this is the best meal I’v had in a while!! thank you.
That’s just awesome! Thank you for sharing your great review with me!
This is a delicious recipe! I didn’t have the whole cloves or allspice, so I added the ground spices directly. I also added some diced carrots & an extra can of diced tomatoes. Everyone loved this dish! I served with crusty bread to soak up the extra sauce. Thank you for sharing!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Laura!
The flavor was excellent!
However, I had some issue with frying the cod. The fillets were of varying thicknesses. Do you have any specifications for fillet thickness? I found that the fish was a bit overcooked/tough after I finished frying them up. I’ve got an infrared thermometer, and tried to keep the pan at about 165 F. I would be curious if you might specify an oil temperature to use? I also added oil between batches to keep the depth at somewhere between 1/8 to 1/4 inch.
I often gravitate to sous vide cooking for fish, as use of a water bath at constant temperature prevents overcooking. Sous vide is what I usually gravitate to when I’ve got fish fillets of uneven sizes, particularly for thinner fillets like Coho salmon.
Next time I make this, I might cook the cod sous vide and then sear it at the end. Alternatively, breading and baking followed by ladling the sauce on top might be good.
Thank you again for some great cooking ideas!!
Thank you for sharing your review! I haven’t had that issue so I wonder if it is due to the size of the filet since cod can come in varying thicknesses. If you try sous vide, let me know how it goes!
I made this tonight with boiled asparagus and home made garlic bread as side dishes, really nice, I do like the look of the fish recipes!
Awesome, I’m glad you enjoy the recipe Chris! Thanks for following and sharing your great review!
Wondering what’s proportion of spices to cook with if I don’t have the whole cloves and corns?
Hi Anna, I haven’t tried it with the ground counterparts so I can’t say for sure how those would affect the outcome of the recipe.
I am making this for a dinner party. Can you suggest a wine pairing?
Hi Kaye, I don’t drink alcohol so I can’t be much help with that.
I realize that your dinner party is long past, but I would recommend pairing this disg with a dry white wine such as a Chardonnay, a Sauvignon Blanc, a Blanc du Val or any other that you prefer. If you desire a red wine, then perhaps a rosé would also work or even a Beaujolais is also a nice all-purpose red wine, which shouldn’t overpower nor dominate the delicate flavor of the fish. Remember to choose what you like and price does not always indicate quality, so don’t feel compelled to “break the bank” for a bottle of wine. You are already enjoying it correctly by sharing it with family and friends over good food. My family has been growing wine grapes for many generations and I have also studied viticulture and enology and worked in the wine making industry at the largest grape crushing facility in the world. I hope that your dinner party was a success and that you will consider supporting the wine growers of Madera, California where I come from. Wishing you all the best! ~Susan Sparke
All your recipes I’ve tried so far, including this one, have turned out absolutely delicious! You are so talented! Thank you and your husband for doing this!
It’s our pleasure Eugenea! Thanks for following and sharing your thoughtful comments! 😀
Can I use a coffee filter to put the spices into when cooking? I don’t have a tea or spice holder and don’t have cheesecloth either 🙁
I haven’t ever tried that so I honestly am not sure if it would actually release the flavor into the dish properly. You really need water to push it through a coffee filter. I suspect it won’t work well.
Natasha, lovely recipe! What would you serve this fish with, traditionally?
Hi Radha, I think mashed potatoes or white rice, or plain buckwheat groats are best paired with this fish because the fish is so flavorful and it’s nice over a more plain grain or potatoes.
mmm, thank you so much! love your recipes!
My pleasure! 🙂
When cooking for my wife and me, alone, we buy our cod at Fred Meyer. Often the folks at many [most?] supermarkets can order 5 lb. boxes of frozen cod and other seafood; it can be divided, vacuum-sealed, and placed in the home freezer before it thaws. Also, we buy frozen shrimp of several sizes in 2 lb. bags, so we have shrimp on hand anytime. Those vacuum sealers are lifesavers.
We love vacuum sealing everything since we got our foodsaver. It’s a wonderful tool and saves money by buying in bulk and preserving foods longer without spoiling. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Good morning Natasha. Could you please give more details in regards “spicing ball”? How exactly to use it and what is inside? Im not quite understand the picture where (if im correct) small plastic container inside of frying pen. How it can infuse with spice if it is not in it?
It’s just a fine mesh metal spice holder, similar to a tea infuser (and you could probably use a tea infuser), or you could just tie the spices in a small piece of fine mesh cheesecloth and set that in the sauce. I hope that helps!
If you have a teabag, just carefully open it up, put the spices in there and fold over and staple the top. It will work!
Thank you so much for sharing that with me.
Thank you, Natasha! Your recipe recalled me how to cook fried fish with tomato sauce like my granny did. Today I made it for the dinner – I used your recipe as a base. I cooked tilapia instead of cod and without cappers (I haven’t ever tried them before – the same story like yours 🙂 Also I used sugar instead of honey and no lemon juce. It was very delicious! My family enjoyed it very much!
I remember that my granny cooked also fish in the oven (maye something similar to what described Iryna B.). She put small fish (I don’t know its name in English), diced onion, carrot and parsnip, some oil, salt, pepper and, possibly, water into the pot, covered it with a lid and placed into the oven for 6 hours. I think, that the oven was preheated to hot and then the heat was reduced to low. The bones really became very soft like in fish preserves. It was very delicious!
That does sound interesting and good, but I don’t have a recipe like that. I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe though. Thanks for sharing that with me 🙂
I made this for dinner today. It was delicious! My husband loved it:)
Thank you for sharing such a nice review Natasha 😀.
Hi, can i use tomato sauce instead of paste?
To substitute, you need 2-3 times more tomato sauce than paste. I would add 12 oz tomato sauce if substituting and maybe slightly less chicken broth.
Are capers essential for this recipe? I do not have any on hand right now.
The recipe will still work without them but they do add a contrasting flavor.
Hello, Natasha! Can I make this recipe with flounder? Thanks for the recipe!
Hi Alla, I haven’t tried it with flounder, but I think that should work fine 🙂
Hey Natasha. Im about to make this recipe but I only have ground allspice .. is that OK? ? And how much should I use ??
Olya, I would add just a pinch of allspice. I hope you’ll love it :).
Thank you for another childhood favorite! Mom always cooked it in “kazanok”, with many layers of fish. They were simmered on the stove for quite a wile so some of the fish bones get soft.
Will try it someday. Gotta go Costco “fishing” first.
PS. I went to Amazon to look at this book and some recipes looks pretty strange, some have weird names. Well, I guess it’s hard to write a book and be totally correct. Are lots of recipes in this book are from Western Ukraine?
I’d like to have a good Ukrainian cookbook in English for my husband and daughter. Which one would you recommend? (I love your way of cooking!)
Wow, so you ate the bones too? I guess that makes sense if sardine bones are edible too. Please to the table has alot of recipes. Ofcourse I haven’t tried all of them (not even close), but the once I’ve tried seem to work well with minor tweaks. When I publish my own cookbook one day, I’ll tell you all about it 😉
Thank you for this recipe! I made it and it was delicious. I am from East India and surprisingly enough, I have eaten my fair share of canned sardines in tomato sauce and this recipe was a delicious close. I will definitely be trying it again and am now thinking of purchasing the book as well.
Thank you for sharing your recipes. I have made several of them including the potato with bacon, the piroski and the buckwheat cutlets. All of them have been very well received.
I’m so happy to hear that you’re enjoying my recipes!! 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful review 🙂
I can’t wait to try your recipe! I made something like this for Ukrainian Christmas (Rizdvo) a few years ago, but lost the recipe. This looks incredible!
Oh what precious memories this recipe evokes. My mama always set a wonderful zakuski table and had a similar fish in tomato sauce as part of the fare. Thank you for this recipe. I will definitely try.
I’m so happy this brings back memories for you 🙂
Natasha! Thanks for the amazing recipe! We love this fish!!! I’m glad I made it cuz I liked fish back in Ukraine in those cans:)
Awesome!! I hope it brings back memories for you 🙂
Even before I read what this recipe was inspired by I immediately thought about canned sardines in tomato sauce from my childhood in Russia! Hahaha! My mom didn’t really let us eat canned stuff but my granny always kept a few cans just in case. 😉 Love this recipe, Natasha!!
Thank you Julia! That’s awesome that it made you think of that. It looks like I’ve successfully recreated even the look! 😉
Your husband is realy lucky that you make what he wants. How about writing about combining with wine. Ofcourse at the right temperature to explore new tasting sensations?
I haven’t tried his dish with wine. Which one would you recommend?
Oooh Yum! This looks a lot like a Bulgarian dish we call “ihniya” or “Manja” lol
Can’t wait to try this version of it! Thank You!!!
You’re welcome Yelena :). I hope it will bring you good memories.
This picture is just SO mouth-watering!! 🙂 Makes me hungry every time I look at it. Already bookmarked it and going on the menu for next week. I know we’ll love it – all your recipes have been a success at my house :)) Thanks.
Julia, thank you for your sweet comment and feel free to share the results of your cooking :).
i think the piece about what to do with the pouch is missing…i can’t seem to understand what to do with that
Susanna, instructions for the spices are in step one. Just place all the spices in it, listed in the ingredients section. Hope this helps :).
My Ukrainian grandmother would have totally approved of this recipe if she were still with us! This is something she would have made, looks scrumptious. I’m trying to duplicate this type of cooking, it would have made her so proud.
That’s wonderful that it makes you think of your grandma. I think my grandma would’ve loved this too. 🙂
This looks so delicious! Reminds me of a popular Ukrainian/Russian fish dish that is baked with tomato sauce. And that idea of keeping the spices in a sac is so smart, it’s always hard to “fish” those spices out of dishes.
I agree. I got the tip out of the cookbook that I mentioned above. It does make it so much easier to remove and discard those.
I love a classic fish in a tomato broth like this. Looks so yummy and I love how simple it is!
Definitely! It looks like a long list of ingredients but the recipe itself is pretty simple.
Thank you for sharing this recipe with us. We always buy cod at Costco and I was looking for different recipes with it. Definitely will make this one.
I really haven’t found a better source for called them Costco. Others seem really loaded with water. I like that the Costco cod comes in really nice and thick pieces.
It’s very similar to how I make it except I don’t add capers, also use tomato sauce and don’t use the broth. And our favorite is with salmon. Also it’s on my menu for today. I will give your recipe a try hope my husband likes it better.
I hope you love it! I haven’t tried it with salmon but it’s great to know that the tomato sauce and salmon combination works well. Thanks Inna!