Tuna patties (sometimes called tuna cakes) are easy to pull off on short notice with ingredients you likely already have, which I think most of us are looking for at the moment.

Here are some easy substitutes:

  • I seasoned mine with chili-garlic sauce, but if that’s not something you usually have, you can use a squirt of sriracha instead. Even a pinch of dried red pepper flakes will do if that’s all you have.
  • Instead of the scallions, you can use some very finely minced onion and/or a handful of herbs (parsley, cilantro). Chives would also work well.
  • The rice vinegar flavor works well here, and it’s a bit milder than regular vinegar, but if you only have white vinegar use that. You could also use lemon juice or white wine vinegar. But try not to leave it out entirely. The hit of acidity makes a big difference.
  • If you don’t have cornflake crumbs, you can use breadcrumbs on the outside too, you just won’t get the same golden color.

The lemon-garlic sauce provides a cooling counter to the spicy tuna cakes. I definitely recommend making it!


  • 18 oz. (500 grams) chunk light tuna in olive oil (3 cans)
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. chili-garlic sauce
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • ⅓ cup breadcrumbs
  • 3 scallions, finely sliced
  • ⅓ cup cornflake crumbs
  • Oil for frying


  1. Drain the tuna and mash with the mayonnaise. (I used tuna in olive oil; if you use the one that comes in water you may need an extra tablespoon of mayonnaise.) Mix in the chili-garlic sauce and the rice vinegar. Add salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  2. Add the eggs, breadcrumbs, and scallions. Mix well (put on a glove and mix by hand if it’s easier).
  3. To make uniform patties, use a large spoon or small measuring cup to scoop the tuna, then form each scoop into a patty with your hands. Press each patty into the cornflake crumbs so that they’re coated on both sides.
  4. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the patties over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes on the first side, then flip and fry for another couple of minutes.
  5. If you prefer to bake these, use a real baking sheet (not disposable) and bake at 450F for 10 minutes, then flip and bake another 4-10 on the second side. Spray the pan and the tops of the patties with baking spray (or drizzle with a little oil).
  6. Serve warm. Dip into lemon-garlic sauce (recipe below).

Yields: 8-10 patties

For the Sauce

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Mix all ingredients together. Serve alongside the patties.