Grain-Free Fish Cakes – perfect for school lunch

By admin, March 11, 2015

I am always trying to get more fish in my kids diet. They readily eat fish at home, but a school lunch is another thing. So far tuna salad is the only solution I’ve found – until these fish cakes!

My inspiration came from this recipe:

“Leave Happier blog – Grain Free Fish Cakes”

The ingredients I had on hand were totally different, plus I’m adverse to measuring things (especially on school mornings), so I just took this as the basic idea and winged it from there.

It turned out so good that the kids were willing to have it for dinner that night and lunch the next day – and one of the teacher’s asked for the recipe.

Here’s a pic of the lunches on their way to school in the back of the autorickshaw.


So here’s what I did (all measurements are totally approximate – I’m just recreating what I did yesterday as best as I can – I figure my US friends will vary the ingredients by what’s available and my local friends will like it much more spicy, anyway :) )

This made about 20 2-inch cakes.


for poaching the fish:

2 pounds white fish, skinless boneless (I used Basa, 1 kg, to be exact)

4 cups broth

splash of wine or vinegar (optional)

handful roughly chopped onion (optional)

for making the cakes:


3 cups coconut flour or desiccated coconut (I used 1 cup desiccated coconut and 2 cups coconut flour, just because that’s what I had on hand)

1/2 cup ground flax seed

4-5 tsp salt

spices: coriander, cumin, tea masala (black pepper, dry ginger, cassia, cardamom, cassia leaf, nutmeg, clove and black cardamon), dried parsley – this is all to taste, I probably used about 1/2 cup of these altogether.


3-4 small onions, chopped small

5-6 large garlic cloves, pressed

6-7 chicken eggs (or 5 duck eggs, which is what I used – one of the many benefit of living in South Asia is that duck eggs are cheap and easy to find here – I usually use 2 duck eggs for every 3 chicken eggs)

1/4 cup olive oil or coconut oil

3-4 splashes of vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar – i would have used coconut vinegar if I had it on hand (another thing that’s cheap and easy to find here)

juice of 1 lemon

for frying:

coconut oil (or other high-heat oil)



1. Put the broth in  pan (I used frozen cups of broth and just put them right in).

2. Optional: throw a handful of onion and splash of wine or vinegar in the broth

3. heat the broth until almost a simmer and then add the fish, let it cook until nice and white and poached.  It should take 5-10 min.

while that’s cooking you can start the mix for the cakes:

4. beat the eggs and mix all the wet ingredients in a bowl

5. mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl

6. when the fish is ready, remove it to a colander and let it drain.

7. Move the fish to a bowl and break it up (flake it) with a fork or clean hands.

8. add the wet and dry ingredients and mix it all up. It should be nice and thick and moist, perfect for forming into cakes – if it’s too dry or too wet, add more of the opposite ingredient type :)

9. form into cakes – I used my hands and made the cakes a little smaller than palm size.

10. heat the coconut oil in a pan and add the cakes, cook covered on med-low heat until bottom is brown (check with a spatula, should take 5-7 min.). Then flip and cook for a few more minutes.

(There should be enough coconut oil in the pan to cover the cakes half way up the sides – that way both sides get thoroughly cooked))

(the original recipe suggested refrigerating them for at least 30 min before cooking, to help solidify. I didn’t have time to do this before cooking a few for the kids’ lunch – they still turned out fine. I put the rest in the fridge and cooked some more for dinner and the rest the next morning – I didn’t notice a difference – I think you can refrigerate these or not)

UPDATE: These also freeze great – reheat directly from frozen in the oven.

UPDATE: My kids still enjoy eating these plain, but if they can get a little ketchup, they like that too.


Now for the fun part :

I don’t normally go through all this trouble on a weekday morning, but I didn’t have their lunch ready on time for school and wanted to make it up to them by bringing them something special.

Since I’d be bringing it to them at lunch time, I didn’t have to worry about keeping it warm long, so I wrapped them in aluminum foil and stuffed them in McDonalds’ Fish Sandwich boxes, which I put in happy meal boxes. I also lined some McD’s french fry containers with aluminum foil and filled them with fresh pomegranate. Each kid also got a boxed drink and some baked apples (made in advance).

(We don’t eat at McD’s much, but when we do, I save the containers and use them for fun things like this. When I use them, I line everything, even the happy meal box, with aluminum foil, so it stays clean and I can reuse it more.)

The next day, I had lunch ready in the morning – which means it would need to stay warm until lunch – so I just wrapped the fish cakes individually in foil and stuck them in insulated containers. Two cakes, individually wrapped in foil, fit neatly in a 10-ounce soup container. Kids said it was warm enough.

What do you think?

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