Spicy Tuna Fish Cakes with Coriander and Chillies

These Spicy Tuna Fish Cakes are fragrant with Asian flavours, including coriander (cilantro), ginger and chillies. Easy to make and a great way of using up leftover mashed potatoes.

spicy tuna fish cakes on a plate with coriander, wedge of lime and bowl of salt on the side

Further to my previous post, we still had another 1 kg of potatoes to get through, and as we are going away next week, I had to come up with a way to use those potatoes. And then, by chance, Carrie from The Patterned Plate posted her delicious recipe for Spicy Tuna Fish Cakes (or, as they are called in her Indian culture, cutlets). I was instantly sold!

Not only were these Spicy Tuna Fish Cakes the perfect way of using up our potatoes, but we had most of the other ingredients on hand, too, which we also needed to use up before going away.

As much as I love fresh herbs such as coriander (cilantro), I think they are sold in bundles which are often too large, such that they usually go brown and wilted before you can use it all. Plus, I always seem to pick up a bunch of coriander when I am out grocery shopping because I am never sure if there is enough back home in the fridge.

spicy tuna fish cakes on a plate with white tea towel

Any recipe which calls for punchy Asian ingredients such as garam masala, ginger, coriander and chillies can only taste good, in my opinion.

Previous recipes which I have tried for tuna fish cakes have been geared towards more the nursery-type palate, which is not a bad thing when you just want fish cakes simply made from mashed potatoes and some tinned fish. This is certainly what I grew up on and a supper of simple fish cakes with a salad (and a blob of Heinz ketchup on the side) is one of the most comforting nursery meals I can think of.

But for something with an extra kick and a bit more grown-up, Carrie’s recipe for Spicy Tuna Fish Cakes is perfect. She recommends serving the fish cakes with a Coriander Raita, but I found a small tub of thick Greek yoghurt mixed with lots of finely chopped coriander did the trick; given that I had added chilli powder and fresh chillies to my fishcakes, the yoghurt sauce was perfect to cut through the heat.

Carrie is forever inspiring me with her recipe choices and this is one which will become a regular in home, for sure.


Spicy Tuna Fish Cakes

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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 20 cakes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Asian

These Spicy Tuna Fish Cakes are fragrant with Asian flavours, including coriander (cilantro), ginger and chillies. Easy to make and a great way of using up leftover mashed potatoes.


  • 1 kg of potatoes, peeled, boiled, mashed and cooled (leftover cold mashed potatoes work best)
  • 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 cm piece of ginger, minced or coarsely grated
  • 1 x 170 g can of tuna in olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 red or green chilli, finely chopped
  • large handful of coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
  • sea salt
  • 12 eggs, beaten
  • 12 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • small tub of Greek yoghurt
  • more coriander (cilantro), finely chopped


  1. Place the cooled (or cold) mashed potatoes in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Heat a medium saucepan with the oil from the tin of tuna, plus maybe a dash of olive oil.
  3. Add the onions, garlic and ginger and cook until the onions have softened.
  4. Add the garam masala and chilli powder and cook for a few minutes.
  5. Next add the tuna and mix it through the onion mixture, breaking up the tuna as you go, but barely cooking the tuna – you just want to turn it in the heat.
  6. Taste to see if you want to add more garam masala.
  7. Add this mixture to the mashed potatoes.
  8. To the mashed potatoes, also add the coriander, chillies and lemon juice.
  9. Mix everything together (it’s best to do this with your hands) and taste for seasoning. You might want to add some sea salt and perhaps more lemon juice.
  10. Beat the eggs in a shallow bowl, and pour the panko breadcrumbs into another shallow bowl.
  11. Shape the fish cakes into whatever size you like.
  12. Dip the fish cakes into the egg and then coat with the panko breadcrumbs.
  13. Heat a frying pan with some vegetable oil and shallow fry the fishcakes until golden on each side.
  14. Serve with a sauce made from a small tub of thick Greek yoghurt mixed with lots of finely chopped coriander.

Kitchen Notes

If you are making these for small children, I suggest omitting the chilli powder and fresh chillies, and perhaps serve some chopped chillies on the side for the adults. My Pickled Chillies would be a great accompaniment here too.

All recipes on this website state temperatures for a regular oven (i.e. a conventional oven without fan). If you have a convection oven with a fan, please consult the manufacturer’s handbook on how to adjust the temperature and baking time accordingly.

To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.


  • Serving Size: Per fish cake
  • Calories: 90
  • Sugar: 1.4g
  • Sodium: 203.7mg
  • Fat: 1.9g
  • Carbohydrates: 13.6g
  • Fiber: 1.1g
  • Protein: 4.4g
  • Cholesterol: 13.3mg

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. Carrie 22 July 2011

    Oh Thanh I am bursting!! You have written about them wonderfully, and your pictures do them so much service! Its such a good recipe to do using stuff you would usually have at home..or at least in my home! Thanks so much for showcasing them on your fantastic blog. I will admit to my heart skipping a beat when I saw my name in ‘published’ recipe!!!!! 😀

    • eat little bird 22 July 2011

      Oh you are more than welcome!! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe! It is certainly the best makeover for fishcakes I have ever tried 🙂 And yes, I usually also have most of the ingredients on hand at home, so these will definitely be a regular feature. Plus, hubby really enjoyed these fishcakes and loved the spiciness 🙂 Thanks again for another great recipe idea!

  2. jobakes 22 July 2011

    I just love that you used Carrie’s recipe Thanh – keeping it in the foodie family! Beautiful fishcakes pictures although my bug phobia won’t allow me to take a second glance at your plate I’m afraid! These are a wonderful recipe I really must do again soon 🙂

    • eat little bird 22 July 2011

      This sounded like a tried and tested recipe and I didn’t want to miss out 😉 I’m so glad to have tried this recipe and can see why so many people have been raving about it. Bug phobia??? Even butterfilies? Oh no!

  3. Teresa De Angelis 22 July 2011

    Tanh, aren’t they delicious! I love that you you said you would make them and you did! And I on the other hand from Jo, like your plate, and lot’s actually…..;)

    • eat little bird 22 July 2011

      I’m snacking on one right now 😉 Oh I’m glad that you like my plate. Our kitchen in Chicago has mostly plain white plates so this was one of the few decorated plates that we have … glad it was pleasing to your eye! 😉

  4. Julia Levy 23 July 2011

    Another gorgeous post Thanh, absolutlely came alive, i love your photos, and amazingly they don’t look fried at all. I love the use of panko, they look so wonderfully crunchy. We (my family) also call them cutlets so come on, join us, beak away from the nursery style fishcakes and call these wonderous beautiies cutlets too!

    • eat little bird 23 July 2011

      Hi Julia! Do you know where the term “cutlet” comes from? I can’t seem to make the connection, unless these fish cakes were commonly made from fish cutlets … I don’t know, LOL! I think the use of panko were key here because they were wonderfully crunchy. Also, I fried them in only a little oil so they were not too greasy. Just love them!

  5. Hazzer 5 August 2011

    I made these the other day, delicious and simple. Beautiful photography as always.

  6. Quynh Anh 22 November 2011

    I was in Lisbon last week. They have a typical fish cake which they consider their typical dish. And it tastes so similar to another type of Vietnamese fish cake (not the one I introduce). I think it’s because they also use coriander. Your recipe looks a bit like that one too. Will try a bit from your recipe with cod fish to see if I can reproduce another recipe. 🙂

    • eat, little bird 26 November 2011

      Good luck with your experiment! Please let me know how it turns out. I made these fish cakes again tonight and they were so delicious and comforting 🙂

  7. Amy 19 October 2012

    These sound good and the photos are as nice as ever. I have seen them on The Patterned Plate too, but have not made them yet. Do you know if they can be kept uncooked in the fridge / freezer, because even halving this recipe makes a large batch for 2. I don’t see why not, but I thought I would check to see if you or Carries have done this. Thank you.

    • eat, little bird 19 October 2012

      Hi Amy,

      These can certainly be kept uncooked in the fridge and, I would guess, also in the freezer. What I often do is shape all of the fish cakes and leave them in the fridge, and then only dip them in egg and breadcrumbs just before frying. As the potatoes and tuna are already cooked, I find they can keep rather well in the fridge for 2-3 days in their “uncooked” state – I haven’t had to test them beyond this duration!

      If you are making these fish cakes for 2, I would also halve the recipe. Though, if you compare my recipe to Carrie’s, mine are perhaps better described as potato cakes with tuna as I use 1 kg of potatoes instead of just 1 potato. So you will see how adaptable Carrie’s recipe is – add more or less potato depending on your own tastes. In which case, if you scale down the potatoes, you would end up with a smaller quantity of fish cakes but more fish flavour.

      I hope this helps 🙂

  8. Julia 12 April 2018

    What a scrumptious dish! I am going to make this! Yum!

  9. Cherie Peacock 12 June 2019

    My husband made these for me the other day when I was working. He is not normally a good cook. I would have to say that these were the nicest fish cakes / balls I have EVER tasted. Having that spice in them and the process to cook them worked perfectly. Will definitely be using this recipe all the time now for fish cakes. SO DELICIOUS.

    • Eat, Little Bird 19 July 2019

      Hi Cherie,
      That’s so fantastic to hear! And even better that someone else made them for you 🙂 I love making these fish cakes as well and keep thinking that I need to update the photos here 😉 I will try to do that soon!