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Spicy Fish Cakes with 2 Dipping Sauces

Spicy Fish Cakes with 2 Dipping Sauces

After experimenting for a week with different renditions of fish cakes, I found that these easy cakes can be quite wonderful, or they can be as dry as cardboard.  It came down to two variations… what kind of fish was used, and how thoroughly the fish was broken down in the mixing process. This post explains how the best fish cakes differ from the mediocre and the worst fish cakes. Included are 2 great dipping sauces!

Spicy fish cakes with tartar sauce and spinach/cauliflower side dish
Spicy fish cakes with tartar sauce and spinach/cauliflower side dish
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The Good Fish Cakes:

Inspired by one of Gordon Ramsey’s shows, I first made the fish cakes with fresh-frozen fish filets. I used a mix of catfish and cod (he used black cod, but I used the filets I happened to have in the freezer).  They turned out wonderful.  They were flaky, tender and mellow in flavor, which was enhanced by a spicy chile sauce and a tangy tartar sauce.

The Horrible Fish Cakes:

My diet partner in crime (aka husband) thought they were a little too mellow and might be better with tuna.  So, being the accommodating sort, I tried it with canned tuna.  They were so dry they were almost inedible!  I thought maybe it was because I used too much tuna, or because it was processed in the blender for too long.

The Marginal Fish Cakes:

Based on the above hypothesis (too much fish and too much blending), I tried again, only this time with canned salmon and no blender action.  They were marginally better than the cardboard, but still terribly dry.  I think the texture of the canned fish is just so meaty from being packed and compressed into cans that it is difficult for the tender nature of the fish to come through.  I have made crab cakes with canned crab before, and they were pretty good, but the crab is packed into the cans much more loosely.  And even with the loose packing, the crab cakes didn’t hold a candle to the fresh-frozen filet cakes.

How to Make Spicy Fish Cakes as Low Carb Recipe

The recipe below was made with panko, which is not slow carb compliant. If you want to make a similar recipe that substitutes almond meal or ground chicharrones for a slow carb version, click here.

Spicy Fish Cakes with 2 Dipping Sauces (tartar or spicy)

Spicy fish cakes with tartar sauce and spinach/cauliflower side dish
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Servings 4
Calories 358
Author dorothy stainbrook



  • 2 Tbsp Refined olive oil refined olive oil has higher smoke point than extra virgin
  • 2 lbs. skinless fish filets I used catfish and cod; cut into small pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 Tbsp scallions sliced thinly on an angle
  • 3 Tbsp Italian parsley leaves chopped
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder (or any spicy chile powder)
  • squeeze of fresh lime juice I used juice from 1/2 medium lime (2-3 wedges)
  • 1/4 tsp fish sauce
  • 3/4 cup Panko crumbs *note: not slow carb compliant

Best Tartar Sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise olive oil based
  • 3 Tbsp capers
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp chopped dill pickles finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chopped scallions
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Spicy Dipping Sauce

  • 1-2 Tbsp fish sauce provides salty umami
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar more mellow than other vinegars
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice juice from 1/2 lime
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chopped green chile pepper your favorite in terms of heat (anaheim to jalapeno to serrano)


  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees F
  • Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mash together with fork or hands until well blended (alternatively, you can combine in blender fitted with blade attachment and just pulse lightly about 5 pulses – do not overblend!). What you are aiming for is a mixture of small, medium and large chunks of fish.
  • Using your hands, form small balls of the fish mixture into patties about 1/2 inch thick and about 2-3 inches in diameter (about 1/3 cup each).
  • Heat 2 Tbsp oil in large skillet (cast iron if you have it), until lightly smoking (about 3 minutes). Place patties in skillet starting at 6:00 direction and moving clockwise, so you remember which ones to turn over first. Do not crowd the patties; leave a little room between each one.
  • Cook patties until browned and crispy on one side (about 5 minutes). Do not move them around while they are browning. Flip, starting at the 6:00 fish cake, and brown about 3 minutes or less on the other side
  • Remove the fish cakes to a baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm. Add more oil to skillet if needed and repeat process with remaining patties.

Dipping Sauces

  • Combine dipping sauce ingredients in bowl and stir until thoroughly blended.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.


** Please note that nutrition calculations are for fish cakes only, and do not include dipping sauces.


Calories: 358kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 42gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 213mgSodium: 1413mgPotassium: 887mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 425IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 68mgIron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?If you tried this recipe, please give it a 5-star rating! To do this, just click on the stars above. And don’t forget to tag me at @dorothy_stainbrook_heathglen, if you share a picture on Instagram! You can also tag me at #heathglen!
Tilapia fish cakes with harissa dipping sauce
Tilapia fish cakes with harissa dipping sauce

The Slow Carb Diet is my low carb lifestyle of choice, and I am definitely benefiting from it, but I am trying to incorporate more fish as the proteins. To make these fish cakes slow carb compliant, you need to eliminate the panko.  The recipe was good even without the panko in it, but it was harder to work with.

Here is a low carb way of making fish cakes using almond meal rather than panko.

Recipe Rating

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Barbara Coon

Saturday 16th of May 2020

I wasn’t clear on how many cakes the nutrition info was for.

dorothy stainbrook

Sunday 17th of May 2020

Hi Barbara, so the recipe is for 2 lbs. (32 oz) and for our family it served 4. If I recall, it made about 25 cakes but of course it depends on how big you make the cakes. I made ours about 2 inches across, which was roughly about 2 oz each (4 cakes per person). Hope that helps.

Fish Cakes Compliant with Slow Carb Diet - Farm to Jar Food

Wednesday 29th of April 2015

[…] They did seem to hold together better with the almond meal, so I’m using this updated recipe as my go-to for fish cakes.  It is really delicious.  I also used cod instead of catfish, but any white fish will work just fine.  The delicate flavor of white fish takes up the bolder Asian flavors in this recipe.  If you want to see the catfish cakes with the chicharrones, click here. […]

Zucchini & Shrimp Fritters for Slow Carb Diet - Farm to Jar Food

Friday 6th of March 2015

[…] You can find the fish cake recipe here. […]


Saturday 22nd of March 2014

Sounds wonderful, but panko is absolutely not part of the slow carb diet.

dorothy stainbrook

Saturday 22nd of March 2014

You are absolutely right Sarina, panko is not allowed on the slow carb diet. I originally made them without the panko and then later went back to the post and added panko in. I thought when I added it in that I noted it as optional for those not on the SCD, but as I just re-read it, I didn't say that. So...I will go back and make that clear. Thank you for the notice.

Gloria Goodwin Raheja

Saturday 4th of May 2013

Oh, and by the way, I get all my catfish fresh from Coastal Seafoods.

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