Siba's tip...

These budget-friendly fish cakes star butternut and canned tuna – a pantry staple in my house. I occasionally substitute the tuna with either canned salmon or fresh salmon or trout. Everyone loves them even my 17 month year old baby.

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Siba’s Lunchbox-friendly Fish Cakes

Prep time

7 min

Cook time

15 min




  • 30 ml canola oil
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 spring onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 ml mild curry powder, heaped
  • 375 g butternut peeled, cooked and mashed (it should be dry, not too wet)
  • 75 ml flour,
  • 4 x 170 g cans tuna in brine, drained
  • 15 ml smoked barbeque sauce
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Coat + Fry

  • 125 ml flour
  • 120 g panko or normal dried breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • Canola oil for shallow frying

Serve with

  • Tartare sauce, for serving
  • Seasonal fruit on skewers, or a green salad, for serving


  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the onion for 4 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and spring onion and cook for 1 minute. Add the curry powder and stir for 30 seconds, taking care not to burn the spice.
  2. Add the mashed butternut and stir and until combined. Add the flour, a heaped spoonful at a time, and stir well.
  3. Stir in the drained tuna along with the barbeque sauce until well mixed. Season with salt and pepper. Switch off the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly until its cool enough to touch and handle. Scope 2 spoonful of the mixture and roll using your hands into a ball and flatten slightly to form mini fishcakes. Repeat with the remaining mixture until all done.
  4. Mix the coating flour and breadcrumbs together on a flat dish. In a jug, whisk the eggs well and pour into a wide and shallow dish. Dust the fish cakes in the breadcrumb-and-flour mixture. Coat in the beaten egg, then bread crumbs again.
  5. Add the oil to the frying pan, until the pan is filled a third of the way, and then heat the pan. The oil must be hot enough to make a herb or bread crumb float to the top in seconds when added, but shouldn’t cause any smoke, if the pan smokes the heat is too high.
  6. Shallow fry about four fish cakes at a time for 1½ minutes on the one side and a minute on the other. Remember you only want to only make the coating bits crispy.
  7. Gently remove from the pan and drain on wire rack lined with kitchen paper. Allow to cool completely before packing into an airtight container to refrigerate or pack for lunch.

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