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Tuna Cakes with Spicy Avocado Sauce


This is another one of those cleaning the cabinets type of projects. This time it was a big can of tuna and a small can of black olives. Oh and I also got to use an avocado that really needed to be used. Not bad — a tasty meal and room in the cabinet for more cans of things I won’t use for six months. Hooray!

Since the sauce is nice, cool and creamy this also makes a great light meal when it’s hot out.

For sauce
Based on a recipe from Gourmet magazine
1 medium avocado, pitted and peeled
1 tbsp low-fat mayonnaise
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1 jalapeno chile (including seeds), stemmed and quartered lengthwise
1/4 cup fat-free milk

For tuna cakes
Based on eating frugally in grad school and jwa’s love of olives
1 12 oz can tuna in water, drained and flaked into a bowl
1 egg
1/4 cup minced fresh chives
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 – 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (+ 1/3 cup more for coating)
1/4 cup black olives, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/4 teaspoon salt

Optional garnish: 1 tomato, sliced


Make sauce:
Pulse avocado with mayonnaise, lime juice, salt, sugar, and one fourth of chile in a food processor until chile is finely chopped. Add milk and purée until smooth. Add more chile if desired, processing until smooth. Transfer sauce to a bowl and chill until ready to eat.

Make tuna cakes:
Stir together tuna, egg, chives, lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper, olives, red bell pepper, garlic and 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs in a large bowl until blended well. If needed, add the other 1/4 cup of bread crumbs. You want enough bread crumbs to be able to make cakes that will hold together nicely.

Form into four patties and dredge in the remaining 1/3 cup bread crumbs. I used panko (Japanese bread crumbs) for the coating but normal breadcrumbs will work fine too. I just think the panko crisps up better and I had some on hand, so that’s what I used.


Heat the olive oil in a skillet and cook tuna cakes until heated through and nicely browned. About 5-6 minutes per side over medium heat. You can also bake the tuna cakes in the oven on an oiled baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. Just flip them over about halfway through cooking time.

To serve, put a couple of tomato slices on a plate, two tuna cakes and then top with the chilled avocado sauce.

8 comments to Tuna Cakes with Spicy Avocado Sauce

  • Hi, I really enjoy your site very much.
    Your creativity with these tuna cakes is awesome! I happen to have all the ingredients in my cupboard at home too so I’m excited to give the recipe a try.
    They look delicious!

  • mlb

    Augustina: Welcome and thanks!
    The tuna cakes were something I just sort of quickly through together — hope they work out well for you! 🙂

  • Ooh that sounds lovely. I make a salmon cake in a similar way and I am thinking the avocado sauce would go with that as well.

  • You have wonderful things in your cabinets~what a clever way to serve up the old tuna-looks really delicious!

  • mlb

    Candy: I think salmon would be wonderful with the sauce. The original recipe paired it with crab cakes — I think it’s pretty much an all-purpose seafood (and more) sauce!
    Jann: Thank you!! 🙂
    Oh yeah and you can also use lemon juice in the sauce — I think I did that since I already needed to slice open a lemon for the tuna cakes!

  • Julia

    I set myself to a challenge of cooking 50 new things this year, and this was one of them. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  • Mr. Mom

    I like this recipe. The first time I made it, I skipped the avocado sauce. It was good. Tonight I made the sauce and it was even better. I served it with rice and beans. Very nice meal.

  • Chrissy

    I tried this recipe recently and loved it. I did not have the vegetables that were included in the tuna cakes and hoped to try them again including them Here I am wanting to make them tonight (Lent Friday no meat! thought they would be perfect) and I already used up my red pepper. Do you have any suggestions of something else I can add to the tuna cakes? We also do not like olives in this household.