If you love seafood, these Tuna Cutlets are just ones to try! The best part is that these can be made with canned Tuna , and has the crunchy satisfying feel of fried fish. Serve them on their own as a snack or appetizer, or wrap along with a few salad greens and your favorite dressing in a wrap for a quick lunch. Here is the lightly spiced Tuna Cutlet, Kerala Style.
If you have read my previous posts you know that I was raised in the Kerala. As with many in the region there is one food group that I cannot live without – Seafood. Just so you know it is valid classification for some of us! We cook seafood many ways – wrap in banana leaves and grill, curries, kabobs, pickles, fries and so on. Pretty much the only thing we don’t make with seafood is deserts .Why no desert you ask? Well the reason is very simple – fresh seafood is more tasty , more amazing than sugar !
In other words , seafood is serious business. Back to the cutlets – I do not remember mom making fish cutlets, but I had my fill from friends and aunts. These were not Tuna Cutlets, but made with large flaky fish available locally like the king mackerel. Any large flaky fish that can be steamed and shredded will work great in this dish – Salmon , Tuna, Cod to name a few.
The basic idea behind this dish is pretty simple. Steam and flake the fish. Add some spices and a binder. Coat with something crunchy and fry. Delish !! There are a variety of choices when it comes to spices and binders. I like to keep the flavors mellow and complement with just a enough spices. I do serve these for dinner – especially if I have a not so popular side – as the brussels sprout in this case.
Saute the chopped onions, green chilies, ginger and garlic till the onions turn soft and begin to turn golden brown. The green chilies are added for flavor and not for heat. I like Jalapenos or Serranos in this recipe. If you were eating this is Kerala, most probably the chilies will be similar to the Thai Chilies. Remove the seeds and ribs from the chilies and chop it fine before cooking. Once the onion starts to turn brown on the sides, add chili powder, a pinch of turmeric, garam masala and salt.
Lower the heat and add the flaked fish and mix well. Cook till the mix is heated through. Turn off the heat and add mashed potatoes or fresh bread crumbs and knead to a smooth dough. I prefer fresh bread crumbs in this recipe for a couple of reasons. Breadcrumbs do not change the taste or texture and absorb any extra moisture in the mix. The other reason being convenience – I do have some around pretty much all the time. Which ever binder you chose add half and start kneading , adding more as necessary. Once the mix feels like a soft dough taste, and adjust salt. Pinch off lemon sized balls and form into desired shape.
Crush 1/4 teaspoon of fennel seeds into a fine powder and add to 1 C fine bread crumb. Add a pinch of salt as well and mix well. The fennel adds a bit of fragrance to the cutlets as they fry. Spread on a platter. Break the egg into a shallow bowl and beat well with 2 tablespoons of water. Roll the shaped patties in the bread crumbs. Shake the excess off so that there is only a light coating on it. Set these aside. Once all the patties are coated with breadcrumbs dip them in the egg wash. Shake off the excess and roll in the breadcrumbs as earlier. Gently roll the patty between the palms of hands to get rid off excess crumbs. Set aside.
Heat enough oil in a thick bottomed pan to deep fry the cutlets. When the oil is almost near its smoking point (around 350°F ideally) add a few patties to it and fry turning side to side until all sides are browned evenly. As you start frying the patties keep the heat at medium to prevent the cutlets from burning. Too low a temperature will make the patties absorb oil. Drain onto paper towels.
I like to serve these with a simple onion salad. Thinly slice red onions and mix with a tablespoon of vinegar and a little salt. Set a side for a few minutes. Cut a tomato and scoop out seeds. Slice the tomato into strips. Repeat the same with a Jalapeno pepper or chilies of your choice. Squeeze the vinegar out of the onions and mix the veggies together. Taste and adjust salt.