Braised Cod in Tomato Fish Sauce Broth

When I make tomato salad, I find myself slurping up the salty tomato juice and oil mixture that remains at the bottom of the bowl. I wanted to create a soup based on this flavor profile, while still keeping it light and fresh for summer. Enter this braised cod, poached gently in an ethereally light tomato water broth, and spiked with lots of fish sauce, ginger, and chili. The result is an effortless umami bomb perfect for an al fresco summer dinner.

Tomato Water: summer’s best kept secret

To make this broth extra light, we salt our tomatoes in advance, giving them time to release their juices. Next, we puree the tomatoes and force the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. This removes any remaining solids from the tomato skin or core. The result is the perfect base for our braised cod.

Why tomato and fish sauce work so well together

Tomatoes and fish sauce are both serious sources of umami, so when paired together the fish sauce simply amplifies the already intense tomato flavor of the dish.

Braising is the secret to perfectly tender fish

In general, white fish is pretty easy to overcook. By braising cod in a flavor-packed liquid, you get a luxuriously soft flakey texture and a little bit of wiggle room when it comes to overcooking. As an added bonus, the fish soaks up all the delicious broth flavor.

Braised Cod in Tomato Fish Sauce Broth

Recipe by Molly MossCourse: Main, Soups, seafoodDifficulty: Easy


Total time



Cod is poached gently in an ethereally light tomato water broth and spiked with lots of fish sauce, ginger, and chili. The result is an effortless umami bomb perfect for an al fresco summer dinner.


  • 2 pounds very juicy large summer tomatoes

  • Olive oil

  • 2 inches ginger, peeled

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 thai chili

  • 1 cup broth, or 1 cup water with 1 tsp better than bouillon vegetable broth base

  • 6 oz cherry tomatoes

  • 2 or 3 5 oz cod filets, or another firm white fish like halibut

  • 1 large knob butter (optional)

  • 1 tbsp fish sauce

  • 1 lime

  • ½ tsp sugar

  • Salt and pepper

  • Cilantro, for garnish


  • Cut the large tomatoes into chunks and place them in a bowl. Season very generously with salt. Set aside and let rest for 20 minutes.
  • While the tomatoes rest, grate the ginger, finely mince the garlic, and either finely mince or pound the chili into a paste. Keep each ingredient separate.
  • Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and season with salt. Set aside.
  • After 20 minutes, place the large cut tomatoes (not the cherry tomatoes) in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
  • Set a fine mesh strainer or chinois over a bowl and pour the puree into the strainer. Use a spoon to guide the juice through the sieve until only the solids remain in the strainer. Discard the solids. Set the reserved tomato juice aside.
  • Heat a high rimmed pan (like a saute pan) over medium heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ginger and chili and saute for another minute.
  • Add the broth to the pan along with 2 cups of the reserved tomato juice. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer. Taste and make any additional adjustments to seasoning. You will be adding fish sauce and lime juice later, which will add additional salt and acid.
  • Remove the cod filets from the fridge and season with salt and pepper.
  • With the broth at a simmer, add the cherry tomatoes, cod filets and a solid knob of butter. Return to a high simmer, then cover and reduce the heat to low. You want to maintain a low simmer with the lid on. Simmer until the cod is opaque white and flakes easily when poked with a fork, about 8 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and add the fish sauce, the juice of ½ a lime, and the sugar. Taste the broth and adjust seasoning as needed.
  • To plate, place a cod filet in the middle of a low entree or pasta bowl and ladle enough broth to hit about halfway up the cod. Garnish with olive oil drizzle and cilantro leaves.


  • There should be enough broth for about 3 cod filets, but you can certainly keep the same recipe for just two filets.
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