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Easy Spicy Thai Tuna Fish Cakes

These Thai tuna fish cakes hit all the right flavour sensations, hot, sour, sweet & salty and they come with a delicious easy dipping sauce.

All told these spicy Thai fish cakes take under 40 minutes to go from the cupboard to being ready to eat and can be prepared a couple of days in advance.

Portrait close up image of spicy Thai tuna fish cakes served with a cucumber and peanut salad

Spicy Tuna Fish Cakes with Dipping Sauce

I adore fish cakes, even growing up I loved those mushy things that they served with school dinners.

I have brought this love into my more “grown up” style of cooking with my canned mackerel fish cakes and sardine and salmon fish cakes.

I even have some classic smoked mackerel fishcakes and of course, some crab cakes!

My new offering on the fish cake front adds the spice that I love courtesy of the flavours of Thailand.

They pack a mighty punch something that would have been unheard of in the school dinner queue when I was a child.

As for the dipping sauce, make sure you repurpose it next time you make spring rolls!

You can serve them warm and at room temperature. They do need to cool a little before serving, they are very soft when hot.

Portrait overhead image of spicy Thai tuna fish cakes served with a cucumber and peanut salad and a dipping sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use tuna in oil?

Usually, my canned tuna recipes, like this tomato tuna pasta recipe call for tuna in oil, but that does not work so well here.

This is because it makes these Thai fish cakes very rich and almost slimy. Stick with tuna either in brine or in spring water.

What sort of potatoes should I use?

Next up are the potatoes. You want a floury or mealy variety like Maris Piper, King Edwards or Russets if you are in the US or Canada.

What sort of chilli should I use?

As for the chilli then I have no advice here! Use your understanding of your tolerance levels and add chilli that you like to these Thai fish cakes.

Thai Birds Eye Chillis are pretty hot, use them with care. They are closer to habanero chillies than they are to jalapeno!

Tolerance to spice is incredibly personal. One person’s mild tingle is another raging volcano.

Can I use dried lime leaves?

Yes, if you are using dried lime leaves, rehydrate them in the boiling potato water for 1 minute before shredding. I would also increase the amount used from 4 leaves to 8.

Can I use fresh lemongrass?

Yes, you can sub the lemongrass paste with fresh, simply remove the tough outer leaves, bruise them with the side of a knife then finely shred them.

Portrait image of spicy Thai tuna fish cakes served with a cucumber and peanut salad

Serving Suggestions

This dish is meant as either a light meal or a snack. Although they also work really well as a party munches!

In fact, the idea behind these spicy Thai tuna fish cakes came from the ones served at buffet lunches at my office when I had a proper grown-up job!

I like to serve this with some toasted peanuts and sliced cucumber. I dress it with some sesame oil and add some of the leftover chilli.

It is spectacularly good with my cucumber salad which features in the video for this recipe!

It also works really well with pickles, which are great at tempering spice.

Something like pickled daikon or pickled cucumber would work really well.

If you wanted to turn these into a complete meal then something like this Thai noodle salad or my soba noodle salad would be the perfect side.

Landscape image of spicy Thai tuna fish cakes served with a cucumber and peanut salad and a dipping sauce.

Equipment Used

I only name-check brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • 18cm or 7″ saucepan.
  • 30cm or 12″ frying pan.
  • Chopping board.
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Grater.
  • Mixing bowl.
  • Spatula or kitchen tongs.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
Square image of spicy Thai tuna fish cakes served with a cucumber and peanut salad
Yield: 2 Servings

Thai Tuna Fish Cakes Recipe with a Dipping Sauce

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Canned tuna forms the foundation of these Spicy Tuna Fish Cakes leaning heavily on Thai flavours and they make a perfect light meal or snack.


For the Fish Cakes:

  • 250g (1 2/3 Cup) Potato
  • 160g (6oz) Tin of Tuna in Water or Brine
  • 1 Thai Birds Eye Chilli Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Grass Paste
  • 1 Tbsp Grated Ginger
  • 4 Lime Leaves
  • 50g (⅓ Cup) Spring Onion
  • 1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
  • 1 Egg
  • 30g (⅓ Cup) Breadcrumbs

For the Dipping Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Thai Fish Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  • ½ Tsp Dark Soy Sauce
  • ½ Tsp Lime Juice
  • ½ Thai Birds Eye Chilli Pepper
  • ½ Spring Onion


For the Fish Cakes:

  1. Peel and cut the potato into a 1cm (½") dice.
  2. Cook the potato in a 18cm or 7" saucepan of well-salted water until soft, this should take 10 minutes, then cool. I use 1 teaspoon of salt in a pan this size.
  3. Slice the chilli pepper as finely as you can and remove the seeds if you want.
  4. Slice the spring onion as finely as you can.
  5. Grate the ginger.
  6. Remove the tough stem from the centre of the lime leaves and slice them as finely as you can.
  7. Mash the potatoes and add the remaining ingredients for the fish cakes.
  8. Form into balls a little smaller than the size of golf balls,
  9. Lightly press these balls to form a small tuna patty.
  10. Heat 5mm-1cm (¼-½") of oil in a 30cm or 12" frying pan over a medium high heat and fry the cakes until crisp and golden.
  11. Drain on a kitchen towel and allow to cool for 5 minutes before eating.

For the Dipping Sauce:

  1. Slice the chilli pepper and spring onion as finely as you can.
  2. Mix together all of the ingredients for the dipping sauce.
  3. Taste and balance the seasoning to your liking.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 385Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 131mgSodium: 2402mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 4gSugar: 15gProtein: 34g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!


Sunday 20th of March 2022

Can these be cooked another way than in half/1cm of oil? Can they be oven cooked? Thank you!

Brian Jones

Monday 21st of March 2022

Hi Dee...

You can but you do not end up with the same satisfying outer crust as you do when you fry them. An air fryer gives slightly better results on the crust.

As everything is cooked you do not need to worry about cooking so I would throw them in a hot oven at around 220°C or 430°F for around 10-15 minutes. The flavours will still work well, you just get a different texture :)

Liz Comerford

Monday 22nd of March 2021

can you freeze these,

Brian Jones

Monday 22nd of March 2021

Hi Liz... I've never been overly keen on freezing potatoes but they do work ok... place them on a tray on some baking parchment in a single layer and drop them in the freezer, when solid wrap in individual portions, then defrost overnight before using.

Enjoy Brian


Tuesday 23rd of February 2021

Great recipe..I sprinkled some sesame seeds on the cakes before frying! Really tasty!

Brian Jones

Friday 26th of February 2021

Superb idea, definitely one that I will try out next time I make this.


Wednesday 22nd of May 2019

Made this and it came out great .. I added some ground roasted peanuts to the tuna fish cake mix and that really gave it a nice crunch. Will definitely try again .

Brian Jones

Thursday 23rd of May 2019

So glad you enjoyed them, I love the idea of adding nuts into the fish cakes, I'm definitely trying that next time!


Tuesday 6th of March 2018

These fishcakes are delicious! Love the cucumber salad too!

Brian Jones

Wednesday 7th of March 2018

Thanks Ann!

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