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Joie’s Late Week Recipes: Frugal Gourmet’s Tuna Cakes

August 23, 2007

This is the first in a series of Joie’s late week recipes. You wouldn’t know it from the rest of the posts on this site, but lisiepeasie and I meant for this blog to have a crafts and cooking slant (in addition to all the ranting and railing we do against all the world’s injustices – hope you’ve been enjoying so far). The first recipe I will be presenting for your consideration is borne out of a need for this student to eat cheaply. Quite apart from the price of the foods used when cooking at home, one of the key tenants of eating cheaply is being able to resist the urge to eat out. I wanted something fancier than instant noodles with leafy greens and egg. I wanted something more complex than fried rice. I also couldn’t bear to look at another can of soup. So I looked at what I had – a can of tuna (but I had had tuna salad so often over the last two weeks, besides, I was out of flatbread – or indeed, any bread), baby potatoes (roasting potatoes would take too long though, it was late and I was hungry), various condiments and past date yoghurt that was still good, but couldn’t be trusted to keep for much longer. Oh and eggs of course. You have to have eggs if one of your food groups is instant noodles.

The Frugal Gourmet’s Tuna Cakes

  • 1 95g can of tuna[1] – drained
  • 4 baby desiree potatoes[2] -cubed
  • 1 dill pickle – finely diced
  • 1 small red onion – finely diced
  • 3 heaped tbsp[3] of whole plain yoghurt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 handful of bread crumbs
  • Salt, Pepper and Dill (dried) to taste
  • Vegetable oil[4] to come half and inch off the bottom of the pan[5]

1. Put the cubed potatoes into cold, salted water bring to a boil. Simmer until potatoes are fork tender.

2. Add the onions, pickle and yoghurt and mash until smooth. Don’t be tempted to use a food processor for this.

3. Fold in the tuna, season the mixture to taste. Make it just  a touch saltier than you usually would, because you still have two more ingredients to go.

4. Stir in the egg.

5. Add enough breadcrumbs so the mixture is sticky and can just hold its shape[6] if formed into balls.

6. Meanwhile, heat the oil in your pan until it starts to shimmer. When the oil is hot enough dollop tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the pan. (NB: Don’t overcrowd the pan. Leave about an inch between each tablespooned dollop.)

7. Fry until the one side is golden brown. Flip once and fry until the other side is golden brown. Serve with lemon wedges. It’d go great with rocket salad too.


[1] I prefer chunk tuna, packed in brine. Tuna packed in oil is great for mayo-less tuna salad, but tuna packed in oil will throw off the balance in this recipe.

[2] Any small thin-skinned potatoes would do. If you decide to use a thick skinned variety, you will have to peel the potatoes first. Frankly, I like the texture of thin potato skins in the cake.

[3] I used an Australian tablespoon which holds 25ml. American tablespoons hold 15ml and British tablespoons hold 18ml. I wouldn’t worry too much about it though, because the later addition of breadcrumbs hinges on how wet your mixture is.

[4] Any oil with a high smoke point – which excludes olive oil. Sunflower, canola, peanut, rice bran are all great frying oils

[5] I like a cast iron pan for frying because it holds on to heat and distributes it evenly

[6] So just spoon some out onto a flat surface and if gravity pulls on it slowly, it’s perfect

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