Store-cupboard fishcakes

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A deliciously simple dish using basic store-cupboard ingredients, these fishcakes are quick and, I think, very tasty.

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This is one of those “throw it all together and gently fry” dishes, but it is so full of flavour: often the most ideal sort of dishes to make!

I make these fishcakes very often and the photos in this post are from several batches I have made recently: some coated in flour, some coated in breadcrumbs. Breadcrumbs gives a crisper finish, but flour works well as an alternative.

My short video of this recipe is here.

A moveable feast

This recipe is a moveable feast in that you can adapt it to use whatever you have, not to mention using different tins of fish such as salmon, sardines or mackerel. I sometimes add a little smoked mackerel but fresh, raw fish is good: just chop up small.

Some of my favourite variations include any of:

  • chopped carrots (small pieces and raw for crunch)
  • frozen peas
  • capers
  • cooked lentils
  • chickpeas
  • sweetcorn
  • celery
  • cheese
  • chilli
  • garlic
  • fresh coriander or parsley

A spritz of lemon or lime juice lifts everything wonderfully, as indeed does a grating of the zest. If you have the lemon or lime juice that comes in bottles, use about a teaspoon or so of that.

Spiced fishcakes?

I often like to make these spiced, and a tablespoon or so of curry spices (a curry powder, paste or a mixture of cumin and coriander) makes these even more delicious. But they work well with harissa spices or even left plain.

I am quite partial to going down the Thai route, using some red or green Thai curry paste and ginger (fresh ginger or even stem ginger from a jar) in there.

Potatoes: tinned, frozen or fresh

You can use whatever potatoes you have lurking around. If you have tinned potatoes, drain them and crush them up well. Frozen mashed potato (a good convenience food in its own right) works well – just defrost it first- but freshly boiled potato is, of course, wonderful.

You don’t need to bother peeling potatoes if using fresh: the skin in there adds flavour and means there is no waste.

Other veg

If you don’t want to use potatoes, these fish cakes work well with vegetables such as parsnips, carrots, butternut squash or cauliflower. Just cook them until they are soft and use as you would with mashed potatoes.

No egg needed

If you have an egg, you can bind the mixture with it, but the potato will bind well enough here. However, I like to add a dollop of mayonnaise which also keeps the mixture together, keeps the fishcakes moist and adds a nice flavour.

My recipe gives softer fishcakes, rather than denser ones. They hold their shape as they cook if you are gentle with the turning.

Recipe: store-cupboard fish cakes – makes 4 large ones or about 12 small ones

  • about 150g tin of tuna, well drained
  • about 150g cooked potatoes, crushed or mashed
  • about a tablespoon mayonnaise
  • about a tablespoon of capers, drained – optional
  • a small onion (any type), finely chopped
  • a spritz of lemon or lime juice (finely grated zest is good too)
  • salt and pepper to season
  • a little milk (soya milk is great if not having dairy) to coat before flouring/breadcrumbing
  • a little flour or breadcrumbs to coat before frying
  • vegetable or sunflower oil to shallow fry

for spiced fishcakes: add 1 tablespoon of curry paste/powder or harissa paste/powder- a Thai curry paste is fabulous!

(1) Mix the ingredients together, using a fork to crush them together enough to hold their shape. You can stir in a tablespoon of flour or chill for about 30 minutes to firm up if the mixture feels a bit too loose or doesn’t hold its shape.

(2) Take a tablespoon or so of the mixture and shape into a balls before flattening slightly into patties. You take a teaspoon of the mixture and fry it to taste, at which point if you feel it needs for seasoning, add it to the main mixture.

NB: you can make larger fishcakes if you prefer.

(3) Dip into a little milk and shake off the excess.

(4) Heat the oil for a few minutes in a frying pan (a couple of tablespoons or so to give a light covering of the base) add the fishcakes. Cook gently for about 6 minutes, turning over carefully after 2-3 minutes using a palette knife or flat-bladed knife. If doing them in batches, you can pop the cooked ones into the oven at about 170C to keep warm while the other cook,

NB: for larger fishcakes, cook gently for about 5 minutes on each side

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

2 thoughts on “Store-cupboard fishcakes”

  1. Who doesn’t love a fish cake with loads of veg in it as well. Yummo!!
    Frozen veg of all sorts come into their own with a fish cake.
    Thanks for the idea, good for the times.


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