What Are Tuna Cakes?

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  • Written By: Mark Wollacott
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2019
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Tuna cakes are a type of food similar to fish cakes. They tend to combine tuna meat with mashed potato to make a patty that is then fried or baked. Salmon cakes and cod fish cakes are similar. Fish cakes including tuna ones are often served with a variety of other foods ranging from rice to salads. Tuna is a large saltwater fish native to both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and is often used for salads and pastas in the West or eaten raw in Japan.

A basic tuna cake is made using mashed potato and tuna. The potato tends to be cooked first by boiling whole or quartered peeled potatoes in a pot. Potatoes can be mashed as they are or combined with butter, margarine and/or milk. Tuna can come in two forms: as a raw steak that has been diced or precooked tinned or canned tuna flakes. Tinned or canned flake tuna tends to be cheaper and more cost-effective, but will lack the natural taste of a raw tuna steak because it has been canned in oil or brine.

The two ingredients are then put together in a bowl to make a tuna-potato patty. Quite often a beaten egg, like when making burger patties, is added as a binding agent. This forms the basis of tuna cakes. Patties can be cooked either by baking them in the oven or by shallow-frying them in a frying pan or skillet.


A number of variations and additions can be made to basic tuna cakes. Breadcrumbs add an extra layer of crunch and taste to the patties. Before being rolled in breadcrumbs, it is possible to add a wide range of additional tastes and flavors.

For example, potato and tuna go well with herbs such as mint, rosemary and basil. In addition to this, they can be mixed with other types of fish such as salmon, with onions or spring onions, with ginger or coriander, and other spices. They can also be mixed with sauces and oils such as ketchup, olive oil and sesame oil.

Asian tuna cakes offer another variation. While the tuna and the potatoes stay the same, the fishcake is combined with different types of soy sauce. Japanese tuna cakes can also be mixed with teriyaki sauce for an extra taste. Yuzu yogurt or limejuice are other flavors that can be combined with Japanese tuna cakes.

One alternative that does not use potato is the pasty tuna cake. This simply wraps the tuna in pastry and shallow fries it in a skillet. The pastry tuna cake is then eaten with dips such as green curry with coconut milk and banana chutney sauce.

Tuna cakes are often combined with healthy meals and side dishes such as salads and rice. They can be combined with more exotic meals such as fried sweet potatoes with figs, various vegetables such as peas and with other potato-based meals like fries and potato skins. In addition to this, they can be eaten by themselves with one or more dips.


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