Lemon Pepper Tuna Cakes

by Jane Wangersky | October 16th, 2014 | Recipes, Simple Solutions

lemon pepper tuna cakesCanned tuna has a lowbrow reputation — we think it’s good mainly for quick lunches, especially to take to work or school, or maybe retro casseroles swimming in canned soup. But if you read Tin Fish Gourmet by Barbara-Jo McIntosh, you’ll see that tuna and other canned fish has way more potential. Here’s a simple dish I’ve been making for years; it varies according to what I’ve got in the house, but this version makes a nice end-of-summer supper.

If you like crab cakes, these are much more affordable. If you’re secretly craving something at the other end of the scale, like frozen fish sticks, these are much better for you.

Lemon, fresh dill, and green onions are a few garnishes that take the “canned” taste away to an extent. Adding any of these to the tuna mixture is another option. So is adding a little powdered ginger (start with a quarter teaspoon to be on the safe side). You could also try serving these with pickled ginger.

Tartar sauce, of course, goes well with fish cakes, but try whatever you’ve got on hand. These are very adaptable.

Lemon Pepper Tuna Cakes

Yields 8
Crispy fish cakes made easily from canned tuna


  1. 2 cans any kind of tuna (I used chunked skipjack)
  2. 1 large egg
  3. 2 tablespoons blending flour
  4. Zest of 1 lemon
  5. Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Process the egg and flour in a food processor for a few seconds till blended and smooth. You can also do this by hand, or use an electric mixer.
  2. Drain the tuna and add it to the egg mixture. Sprinkle on the lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
  3. Process for just a few more seconds — you’re blending this, not puréeing it. The final mixture should be moist but stiff.
  4. Heat a couple of spoonfuls of oil in a heavy skillet. When it’s beginning to sizzle, carefully put in a tablespoonful of tuna mixture and flatten it with the back of the spoon. Cook about five to seven minutes per side. Be careful turning the cakes over, and let them drain on a paper towel before serving. Serve with fresh dill and a lemon wedge.
  1. You may want to try coating the cakes in a little extra flour to form a crispier crust. Blending flour is best for this, as for the main recipe, but regular flour will work.
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