Cod Fish in Tomato Sauce Recipe

Cod fish in Tomato Sauce. The fish is flaky and juicy and the sauce is legit! | natashaskitchen.com

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. 

Cod fish in Tomato Sauce. The fish is flaky and juicy and the sauce is legit! | natashaskitchen.com

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.

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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.

Cod fish in Tomato Sauce. The fish is flaky and juicy and the sauce is legit! | natashaskitchen.com

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

Cod fish in Tomato Sauce. The fish is flaky and juicy and the sauce is legit! | natashaskitchen.com

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.

Cod fish in Tomato Sauce. The fish is flaky and juicy and the sauce is legit! | natashaskitchen.com

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. The fish is flaky and juicy and the sauce is legit! | natashaskitchen.com

Cod fish in Tomato Sauce. The fish is flaky and juicy and the sauce is legit! | natashaskitchen.com

Cod Fish in Tomato Sauce

4.84 from 12 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Cod fish in Tomato Sauce. The fish is flaky and juicy and the sauce is legit! | natashaskitchen.com
This recipe is the result of my husbands cravings for sardines in tomato sauce he ate growing up in Ukraine. The fish is flaky and juicy and the sauce is legit. Can be served warm or cold.
Author: Natasha of NatashasKitchen.com
Skill Level: Medium
Cost to Make: $22-$25
Servings: 6

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

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.

Instructions

  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.

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Cod fish in Tomato Sauce. The fish is flaky and juicy and the sauce is legit! | natashaskitchen.comWhat were some of your favorite foods growing up? Let me know in a comment below. 🙂

Cod fish in Tomato Sauce. The fish is flaky and juicy and the sauce is legit! | natashaskitchen.com

natashaskitchen

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • LFK
    June 4, 2018

    Hi,

    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!! Reply

    • Natasha
      June 4, 2018

      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! Reply

  • Chris
    April 21, 2018

    Hi Natasha

    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! Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      April 21, 2018

      Awesome, I’m glad you enjoy the recipe Chris! Thanks for following and sharing your great review! Reply

  • Kaye
    July 1, 2017

    I am making this for a dinner party. Can you suggest a wine pairing? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      July 1, 2017

      Hi Kaye, I don’t drink alcohol so I can’t be much help with that. Reply

  • Eugenea
    June 8, 2017

    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! Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      June 9, 2017

      It’s our pleasure Eugenea! Thanks for following and sharing your thoughtful comments! 😀 Reply

  • Natasha
    January 19, 2017

    Hello Natasha,

    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 🙁 Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 20, 2017

      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. Reply

  • Radha
    December 21, 2016

    Natasha, lovely recipe! What would you serve this fish with, traditionally? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 21, 2016

      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. Reply

      • radha
        December 31, 2016

        mmm, thank you so much! love your recipes! Reply

        • Natasha's Kitchen
          December 31, 2016

          My pleasure! 🙂 Reply

  • Ray Nelson [Did, Zedo, etc.]
    September 8, 2016

    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. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      September 8, 2016

      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! 🙂 Reply

  • Elena
    April 12, 2016

    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? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 12, 2016

      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! Reply

  • Natasha
    February 15, 2016

    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! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      February 15, 2016

      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 🙂 Reply

  • Natasha
    January 25, 2016

    I made this for dinner today. It was delicious! My husband loved it:) Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 26, 2016

      Thank you for sharing such a nice review Natasha 😀. Reply

  • Nawal
    January 8, 2016

    Hi, can i use tomato sauce instead of paste? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 8, 2016

      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. Reply

  • Nawal
    January 7, 2016

    Are capers essential for this recipe? I do not have any on hand right now. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 7, 2016

      The recipe will still work without them but they do add a contrasting flavor. Reply

  • Alla
    November 3, 2015

    Hello, Natasha! Can I make this recipe with flounder? Thanks for the recipe! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 3, 2015

      Hi Alla, I haven’t tried it with flounder, but I think that should work fine 🙂 Reply

  • Olya
    September 30, 2015

    Hey Natasha. Im about to make this recipe but I only have ground allspice .. is that OK? ? And how much should I use ?? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      September 30, 2015

      Olya, I would add just a pinch of allspice. I hope you’ll love it :). Reply

  • Iryna B.
    August 2, 2015

    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!) Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      August 2, 2015

      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 😉 Reply

  • Beth
    August 2, 2015

    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. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      August 3, 2015

      I’m so happy to hear that you’re enjoying my recipes!! 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful review 🙂 Reply

  • Anna
    August 1, 2015

    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! Reply

  • Zina P
    July 25, 2015

    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. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      July 25, 2015

      I’m so happy this brings back memories for you 🙂 Reply

      • Alina
        July 28, 2015

        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:) Reply

        • Natasha
          natashaskitchen
          July 28, 2015

          Awesome!! I hope it brings back memories for you 🙂 Reply

  • July 25, 2015

    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!! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      July 25, 2015

      Thank you Julia! That’s awesome that it made you think of that. It looks like I’ve successfully recreated even the look! 😉 Reply

  • July 24, 2015

    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? Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      July 25, 2015

      I haven’t tried his dish with wine. Which one would you recommend? Reply

  • Yelena
    July 24, 2015

    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!!! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      July 24, 2015

      You’re welcome Yelena :). I hope it will bring you good memories. Reply

  • Julia
    July 23, 2015

    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. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      July 23, 2015

      Julia, thank you for your sweet comment and feel free to share the results of your cooking :). Reply

  • susanna faygenbaum
    July 21, 2015

    i think the piece about what to do with the pouch is missing…i can’t seem to understand what to do with that Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      July 22, 2015

      Susanna, instructions for the spices are in step one. Just place all the spices in it, listed in the ingredients section. Hope this helps :). Reply

  • July 21, 2015

    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. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      July 21, 2015

      That’s wonderful that it makes you think of your grandma. I think my grandma would’ve loved this too. 🙂 Reply

  • July 21, 2015

    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. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      July 21, 2015

      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. Reply

  • I love a classic fish in a tomato broth like this. Looks so yummy and I love how simple it is! Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      July 21, 2015

      Definitely! It looks like a long list of ingredients but the recipe itself is pretty simple. Reply

  • Galina
    July 21, 2015

    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. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      July 21, 2015

      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. Reply

  • Inna
    July 21, 2015

    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. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      July 21, 2015

      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! Reply

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