When I was growing up a can of Tuna often constituted a good square meal. My Mother’s repertoire of recipes was small and Tuna was a big part of that list on regular rotation.
For a working Mother, Tuna not only had nutritious qualities worth considering, it was also very quick. Staples like, Tuna bake or a Kedgeree with Keens English curry powder or Rise a Riso with Tuna and peas, always our favourite, were constants on the menu. This dish was a packet of Risoni with added flavouring from the supermarket, to which we added tuna and peas and any other stray vegetable in the fridge and all four of us learned to make it over time. While our neighbours of Italian, Maltese and Polish heritage were tucked away in the surrounding houses making all kinds of hand rolled pastas, dumplings and stuffed cabbage rolls for dinner, we were taking turns to whip this up.
Although I scoff just ever so slightly at my Mothers cuisine choices, she grasped the industrial production of quick meal ideas with both hands and after teaching us to cook them, she collapsed on the coach. Some foods from your child hood just can’t seem to be erased from the memory banks, they are sometimes comforting and they can become a part of our childrens childhood too. When Skater was young I tried to encourage him to eat Tuna bake or this Rise Riso with absolutely no success. In fact a can of Tuna opened anywhere within close proximity of his nose can drive him out the front door. Sad really.
This is what lead me to buy some fresh tuna pieces and offcuts at the market the other day . You can buy 500gm of tuna offcuts and pieces in most shops in the fish market for around $14. You could also use 500gm of Tuna fillet, just a little bit more expensive. I thought if I made fish cakes with fresh tuna I may have more luck, and I was right.
I’ve added an exotic Italian influence just to prove how far I have fallen from the tree. These little capers are from the Island of Pantelleria, in the Strait of Sicily, 100 km (62 miles) southwest of Sicily and just 60 km (37 miles) east of the coast of Tunisia. It is dry and wind swept and caper bushes grow from rocks and crevises all over the island, as well as on terraces where they are hand harvested. After curing in Trapani salt from Sicily for a couple of weeks they are cleaned and immersed in Extra Virgin Olive oil. There is nothing in the world like these special capers.
Any way, I do go on. These fish cakes are very simple, made with very few ingredients so that the flavour of the Tuna shines through the crispy Panko Crumbed exterior.
- 500gm raw tuna
- 500gm steamed potato ( preferably a waxy one like deseree)
- 1 Tablespoon very finely chopped shallot or Spanish onion
- 1 small clove of garlic
- 1 egg
- ½ cup panko crumbs
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- optional chilli if you like
- 2 cups of panko crumbs
- Cool and crush the potato and refrigerate till cool. ( I steam whole in the skins and peel after)
- Cut the tuna into pieces and put into a food processor and blitz till it is well minced but not completely smooth.
- Add the parsley, tuna, shallot, garlic, lemon juice, egg, salt and pepper and crumbs to the potato in a medium bowl and mix well.
- Shape the mixture into cakes flattening to around 5-6 cm so they are not too thick to cook through. The recipe can be made to here and chiiled if you want to make ahead.
- Put 2 cups of panko crumbs into a dish and coat the cakes with the crumbs. Pushing them onto the outside so they stick. I had no need to eggwash, the crumbs should stick with no problems but you can egg them first if you prefer
- Heat a fry pan with 3 cm of oil. When it is hot add the fish cakes in batches frying till golden on both sides, drain on kitchen paper.
- These make great canapes and only take minutes to cook. You can prepare them ahead of time and cook them at the last minute, just before handing around with a sauce.
- I've served them with caper mayonnaise ansd deseeded green Bella Cerignola olives
- This recipe makes approximately 12 cakes or around 24 small ones
Delicious tiny Tuna cakes with caper mayonnaise and Bella Cerignola olives