Spiced Cod Falafel with Harissa Mayonnaise from "Fress" by Emma Spitzer

Cod Flalafel, Harissa

More Harissa but moreover, a recipe from a very talented Master Chef finalist, Emma Spitzer. 

Emma Spitzer was born and raised in Brighton to Jewish parents of Polish and Russian descent. "She’s definitely someone who cooks from the heart, and I love that” said John Torode. Her style is big, bold flavours with many different ingredients coming together on one plate. She creates a fusion of Middle-Eastern and Eastern European flavours 

As Masterchef returned to our screens, we hear from all the contestants that this is a program which changed their life. It's certainly the case for Tony Rodd (same series as Emma) who I interviewed recently for the Greenwich Visitor as Tony is opening a restaurant in Blackheath soon.

As for Emma, she has been teaching cookery classes and demonstrating at food festivals, running sell-out supper clubs and catering for private dining events and her debut cookbook, "Fress" is out today. So this recipe is a bit of a scoop.

Emma Spitzer creates a fusion of Middle-Eastern and Eastern European flavours with this contemporary Jewish cookbook. “Fress” is a Yiddish word meaning “to eat copiously and without restraint”’s debut cookbook. Spitzer’s style of cooking is unfussy and uncomplicated, extracting the maximum flavour from the humblest of ingredients without spending hours in the kitchen. Her food has a strong Jewish identity.

Her melting pot of inspiration embraces Poland and Russia, Jewish recipes learned from her mother, travels in Israel, Egypt, Jordan and North Africa, as well as Algerian recipes shared by her mother-in-law. Emma describes it to everyone in the know as Ashkenazi meets Sephardi.

In my opinion, "Fress" is a happy book or in the author's words “Fress is the realisation of a dream to bring classic, Jewish dishes into the modern day, in a book where the recipes are both accessible and exciting for the home cook to create.” 

* Small plates for sharing 
* Soups 
* Big plates with meat and fish 
* Big plates with veg 
* Dressings, pickles and sauces *
* Sides and salads *
* Sweets and baking *

Spiced Cod Falafel with Harissa Mayonnaise

Falafel is ubiquitous across the Middle East and there are numerous ways
to make them, but the humble chickpea is always the staple ingredient.
Accompanied with a nice runny Tahini Dressing, perhaps a dash
of chilli sauce and hot chips in doughy warm pitta bread, they are simply
heavenly. This is how you will find them served across falafel bars throughout
Israel. When you add some succulent white fish as the main ingredient, it
lightens them into more of a fishcake texture. They work beautifully with
a harissa mayonnaise, perfect for a starter or light supper.

Makes about 20 falafel

  • 200g dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight
  • table salt
  • 800g skinless cod loin (or any similar
  • white fish fillet, such as coley, hake or
  • haddock), chopped into large pieces
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • large handful of coriander, stalks and
  • leaves finely chopped
  • small handful of dill, stalks and leaves
  • finely chopped
  • small handful of flat leaf parsley, stalks
  • and leaves finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground sumac
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 80g sesame seeds
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g panko breadcrumbs, I use ordinary breadcrumbs
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • sunflower oil, for deep-frying
  • sea salt flakes
  • lemon wedges, for squeezing

  • For the harissa mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Harissa
  • 3–4 tablespoons mayonnaise


Drain the chickpeas, rinse and place in a large saucepan. 
Cover with plenty of fresh salted water and bring to the boil. Continue to cook for at least 2 hours or until soft, then drain and leave to cool.

Cut the cod into chunks and add to a food processor along with the cooled
chickpeas, onion, garlic and herbs. 
Pulse in short bursts so as not to ruin the delicate nature of the fish – a meat grinder works really well here, if you have one. 

Transfer to a bowl, add the spices, 1 teaspoon table salt (or 2 teaspoons
coarse sea salt), a few twists of black pepper and the sesame seeds and stir

Cover and pop the mixture into the fridge for 30 minutes.

Wet your hands and roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls.

Beat the eggs in a bowl and spread the breadcrumbs out on a plate. Dip each falafel in turn into the beaten egg and then roll in the breadcrumbs.

Preheat the oven to 110°C/90°C fan/Gas Mark ¼.

Heat the oil for deep-frying in a deep-fat fryer or large saucepan to around
150°C (don’t fill the pan more than halfway). 

Deep-fry the falafel, in batches, for about 5–6 minutes until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper, then keep the cooked falafel warm in the oven while you fry the rest.

Meanwhile, mix the harissa with the mayonnaise, adding more or less of
each depending on how hot you want it.

Season the falafel with sea salt flakes and serve immediately accompanied

by the Harissa Mayonnaise and lemon wedges for squeezing over.

As Emma's family meals reminds me very much of my maternal grandfather's, I link this recipe to Inheritance Recipes, hosted here this month in collaboration with Coffee 'n Vanilla

I am also linking this recipe to COOK BLOG SHARE

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