I don’t care about fat or not, I have a (unhealthy?!!) weakness for deep-fried food. Some of my fondest childhood memories center around my visits to the Indian coffee house, an Indian-based restaurant chain, and enjoying their mouthwateringly delicious cutlets with a cup of chai. This used to be the high point of my visit to the city those days. My other fond memories are centered on my girlhood days in Abu-Dhabi when my mom used to make these gorgeous tuna cutlets and I would wait in anticipation to gorge on the hot patties. Cutlets have a warm fuzzy feel to it that makes it very comforting and equally appetizing to me. With such history, it is little wonder that this dish was my crowning glory when I started cooking, after marriage.
The availability of a huge range of good quality canned tuna means you can save money and time as it takes some pressure off buying expensive fish fillets or the trouble of filleting a whole fish yourself. The beauty of using canned tuna (I prefer white tuna) is that you can completely forget about the fishy smell as well. There are plenty of times I’ve served these to guests who were surprised to learn the patties were made of fish. My family totally loves tuna cutlet. In fact, it is a requisite on our table during Ramadan for a satisfying Iftar meal.
I used the flaky and light panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), instead of regular breadcrumbs, to dredge the cutlets. Result? Crunchy, munchy and yummy little bites that everyone adored! What I liked most about panko is the fact that it did not absorb much grease as regular breadcrumbs and the coating stayed crispy all the while, too.
If you are a fish lover, I hope you try this easy and delicious tuna cutlets that kids and adults alike will enjoy.
Crispy and Crunchy Tuna Cutlets with Panko
makes about 25-28 patties, depending on size
2 x 185g canned white tuna, drained and flaked (I used California Garden)
2 medium potatoes, rinsed and peeled
water, for boiling potatoes
2 cups onion, halved and sliced
2 tablespoon fresh ginger, crushed
4-5 medium green chilies, sliced
1 teaspoon black pepper powder, freshly ground
½ teaspoon garam masala powder (I used homemade)
salt, to taste
handful cilantro leaves, chopped
2 cups plain panko or regular breadcrumbs
2 tablespoon oil, plus more for deep or shallow frying
Cook the potatoes in a small pan of boiling salted water until tender. Drain and mash to a paste.
Heat 2 tablespoon oil in a large frying pan on medium-low heat. Add the onions and stir-fry for 5 minutes or until the onions become translucent. Add the ginger and cook for 1 minute more. Tip in the flaked tuna. Then, season with salt, freshly ground pepper, garam masala and turmeric. Stir-fry everything together for 2 minutes before adding the chopped cilantro and mashed potatoes. Mix well. Remove the pan from heat and set aside to cool.
Set two shallow bowls side by side. Place panko in one bowl and beat the egg in the second. Shape the cooled tuna mixture into patties. For more fun, use cookie cutters to shape the cutlets. Working with one at a time, dip each piece into the egg, shake off any excess, and then roll in panko to coat evenly. Again, shake off excess and place on a baking sheet.
Heat oil for deep frying/shallow frying in a large wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook 3-4 cutlets at a time until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Serve warm with tomato sauce and some finely sliced onion.
These cutlets can be chilled for up to 24 hours - no need to thaw before frying. They can also be frozen up to 3 weeks – defrost completely before frying.
When I made this yesterday, I was convinced that there would be few remaining to go with a cup of chai later, but not a single piece remained. Sigh.