Thursday, July 29, 2010

Spicy Tuna Cakes

I am literally salivating as I write this post. That’s how good this meal was.

I, personally, have a love for crab cakes – but I am also highly critical of them. Some chefs just don’t have the bread crumb/seasoning/crab ratio down, and there is nothing like large, meaty chunks of crab versus the next-to-nonexistent crab “flakes” some crab cakes possess. I got a craving for crab cakes the other night, but really don’t have the money right now to be going out to eat. Between moving and saving for Italy, I need to cook more at home over the next few months. Similarly, I don’t have the extra money right now to be buying more expensive grocery items like crab meat. 

So, I came up with what I thought was a brilliant idea: Tuna cakes! I had a can of tuna already in my pantry, along with bread crumbs and plenty of spices. However, after Googling “tuna cakes” I discovered I’m way behind the times with this “brilliant idea.” But, after perusing some of the recipes, I wasn’t a fan of most of them (Dijon mustard with tuna? Not so sure about that…). So, I made up my own. And they were delicious.

Spicy Tuna Cakes
Yields: 3 large patties, or 4 medium patties

Tuna patties:
-1 12 oz. can tuna, drained and shredded with a fork
-1 dill pickle, diced
-3 tbsp. mayonnaise
-1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
-1 egg
-1 tsp. garlic
-1 tsp. seasoning salt
-1/2 tbsp. chili powder
-Squirt of lime juice (or lemon juice)
-Squirt of Tabasco sauce
-Salt and pepper, to taste
-2 tbsp. olive oil

-Plain bread crumbs
-Whole wheat flour

Directions: Add all of tuna patty ingredients to a big bowl (except for olive oil) and mix well with hands. Form mixture into 3 or 4 patties (I put some olive oil on my hands to make the patties more moist and malleable). On a plate, mix additional bread crumbs and some whole wheat flour (enough to dip the patties in). Coat both sides of each patty with the bread crumb and flour mixture. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in skillet on low to medium heat. When oil is hot, add patties. Cook until both sides of each patty are golden brown.

I served my tuna patties with a simple corn and jalapeno salad. I just heated up some frozen organic corn, added some chopped jalapenos, cilantro, salt and pepper - and my side dish was done.

These tuna cakes were perfectly seasoned with large chunks of tuna, and didn’t have that fishy flavor that canned tuna can sometimes possess. The exterior was also perfectly crunchy, and really helped to add some texture to the cake. I almost swapped out the chopped pickles for dill, but I am so glad I didn’t – the snap from the pickles added a necessary crunch to the cakes.

Although I really wish I had remembered to pick up fresh lemon for these cakes, the end result was still light, healthy, and fairly easy to make. And, I didn’t have to leave my house to buy ingredients for it. 

How have you re-created one of your favorite restaurant dishes to make it more affordable/original?


  1. This looks...AWESOME. I am definitely going to be trying this recipe out, especially since I have several packages and cans of tuna in my pantry. I think I'd maybe add some panko for a crispier texture?

    I recently made a watermelon and feta appetizer inspired by Vlora's dish. I'm not sure if it was more affordable or original but I definitely used the leftover feta for another dish (my pesto and feta orecchiette salad) and was snacking on watermelon all week!

  2. wow this looks amazing!