Fish Polpette (Polpette di Pesce) Recipe

Fish Polpette (Polpette di Pesce)

This fish polpette recipe is comfort food from Italy. The preparation is not much different than meatballs, aside from the fact that they are not fried. Fish meatballs are “poached” in a rich tomato sauce and served on its own, not with pasta. A slice of crusty bread is all you need to mop the delicious tomato sauce.

Yield: 4 servings

Time:  40 minutes


Fish Polpette:

  • 1 lb (450 g) cod fish fillets, skinless, cut into rough cubes
  • 1 cup (50 g) breadcrumbs or more if needed
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (8 g) flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped + more for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 lb (450 g) canned plum tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (70 g) onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 4-5 basil leaves, shredded


Soften the breadcrumbs with the beaten egg and set aside.

Place fish, garlic, parsley, Parmesan, lemon zest, salt and pepper in the food processor. Add the softened crumbs to the fish mix and pulse on and off until you get a consistent mass. If the mixture seems to wet, add more bread crumbs by the tablespoon. Shape fish mix into walnut-size balls and roll it gently into extra bread crumbs if you wish. Place fishballs on a plate and refrigerate while you prepare the tomato sauce.

In a large saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, Add garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant. Add the tomatoes and basil and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, breaking the tomatoes down with a wooden spoon. Taste for salt and pepper.

Remove fish balls from the fridge and add them gently to the tomato sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes, turning the fish balls from time to time. If the sauce seems too thick add some water to thin it up. Serve with extra parsley and Parmesan.

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