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1 onion, cut into quarters

2 garlic cloves, cut in half

2 fresh green chillies, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon preserved lemon, roughly chopped

25g fresh coriander, roughly chopped

¹/² tablespoon paprika

¹/² tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons sea salt

600g skinned hake

1 free-range egg

extra virgin rapeseed oil, for shallow frying


For the sauce:

4 tablespoons extra virgin rapeseed oil

1 red pepper, cut into strips

2 fresh green chillies, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

25g fresh coriander, leaves and stalks finely chopped

1 tablespoon paprika

2 teaspoons caster sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

100g tomato purée

200ml vegetable stock or water


To serve:

boiled rice or fresh bread

green tahini sauce

salad or greens

Spicy hake cakes in a red pepper & chilli sauce

There is nothing better than a chunk of spicy fish cake enveloped in a piece of challah bread, dunked in red pepper sauce, and drizzled with green tahini sauce. It’s a flavour bomb in a bite. This ritual is part of most Friday dinners at my mother’s served in between the spread of mezze and before the mains.

Make sure to make a few extra for sandwiches the next day. We serve these in pita breads in our deli Mezze in Tramore and are probably one of our most popular specials!

Makes 12 fish cakes to serve 4–6


Make the hake cakes by blitzing the onion, garlic, chilli, preserved lemon and coriander in a food processor until finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is chopped. Add the spices and salt, then break the hake into chunks and add that to the processor too. Pulse just until the fish is mixed in with the herbs and spices. Don’t overprocess it – you want the fish to be a little chunky.

Beat the egg in a large bowl, add the hake mixture and combine. Divide into 12 patties.

Heat about 1cm of oil in a wide frying pan on a medium to high heat. Working in batches, add the hake cakes and fry for 5–6 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Drain on kitchen paper or a clean cloth and set aside.

For the sauce, heat the oil in a medium-sized deep, wide frying pan or saucepan on a medium heat. Add the red pepper and chilli and fry for 2–3 minutes. Add the garlic, coriander, paprika, sugar and salt and cook for 1–2 minutes, then add the tomato purée and stock or water to cover the pepper, stirring to combine. Cook for 15–20 minutes.

Add the fish cakes to the sauce, cover the pan, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10–15 minutes, until the fish cakes are heated through.

Serve with rice or fresh bread, green tahini sauce and salad or greens.


Taken from ‘Middle Eastern Food Made to Share’ cookbook by Nicola Crowley and Dvir Nusery. Available from



Products used in this recipe