April 03, 2007

Spicy Fish Cutlet

One of my earliest food memory is of a 5-6 yr old(me) sitting on the kitchen counter, waiting for my mom to finish frying cutlets anxiously. I ate and sometimes fought with my brother for the first one. The first greedy bite almost always lead to a game of hot potato.. too hot to swallow and too good to spit it out. When I finally managed to taste it, I was making A-one signs with my hand to show appreciation. (A-one Sign: Hold your thumb ad forefinger together to form an "o" and raise the other three fingers up.)
Since then, cutlets are a comfort food, fried and spicy, but I need it really straight off the frying pan. Now my son and better half have taken over the baton of loving cutlets, whether its meat or vegetable or fish. And now I like making them than eating them, though I love them if someone else has made them and I am at the receiving end.

The fish cutlets are an oxymoron..fish is good for you, fried is bad for you..:)..but they are so easy to make here, as all the ingredients are straight from the pantry..canned tuna, potatoes, eggs, bread crumbs.. so they get made on a regular basis. My mom doesnt't use the canned tuna for the cutlets as there is a plethora of large fish around her in Calicut. The luxury! This recipe originated with my ma-in-law and now I have adopted it as my own. It is also a good dinner item..Slap it between two slices of bread with some dressing, salad leaves and you have a fish sandwich.
You will need: (Makes 14-16 cutlets)
Light Tuna Cans(in water or oil)- 2
White Potato-2 (Approx. 3 /4 lb)
Onions- 2 medium sized ones
Green chilies- 8 (use less or more as per taste)
Garlic- 2 cloves
Black pepper- 2 tsp
Biryani Masala/Garam masala- ½ tsp (optional)
Lemon juice- 2 tsp.
Salt to taste
Coriander/Cilantro leaves- 1 cup washed, dried and chopped finely
Canola Oil- 2-3 tbsp
Egg or 1 Egg white–1
Bread crumbs- 1 cup

1. Chop the onions, garlic and chilies finely into tiny dices. Open the can lid completely and press into the can and drain all the liquid away. If you are using the tuna packed in oil, drain the oil seperately and use half of that for frying the onions. Else use the canola oil.

If you are using fresh fish, use a larger fish such as Salmon, King Fish or Swordfish as they hold up well. Marinate them with a bit of salt and pepper, and place them in a pan with 1 tbsp of oil, covering the pan to steam cook them. Remove the skin and bones, flake the flesh and keep it ready.

2. Heat the oil in a shallow non-stick pan and add all the onions, green chilies and garlic. After a couple of minutes, add the tuna too. Keep stirring and slightly fry the ingredients till the tuna's can smell goes away and the onions reduce in size. Add the garam masala and salt. This should take about 6-8 minutes. Take care not to let the mix stick to the pan and not to add too much oil in the beginning itself. You can always add a bit more if it starts sticking.
3. After 15mins, take the mixture off the flame and add the lemon juice, and pepper. Adjust the seasoning.
4. Meanwhile, wash each of the potatoes, wipe them dry and cover with plastic wrap. Place them in the microwave and adjust the setting for the baked potatoes. All the potatoes can be cooked at the same time. Alternatively, the washed potatoes can be pressure cooked with ½ cup water for a single whistle.
5. Peel the potatoes and mash them with your hands/potato masher or the back of a spoon. There should be no lumps. Add the fish mixture to the potato, and add the chopped coriander leaves and salt. Mix and taste and add more salt or lemon juice if needed.
6. Make lemon sized balls of the mixture and shape it into an oval or round shape.
Beat the egg (You can use just egg whites too) with a pinch of salt. Keep a plate with bread crumbs also ready.
7. Dip each oval ball into the egg and then into the bread crumbs. Give it a final shaping. Heat oil in a pan and shallow fry the cutlets till brown on either side.

This is a slightly time consuming snack and works best in large batches, so I make them and freeze them for the days when we get home from work famished and raid the freezer for anything resembling food or for impromptu guests.

Freezing Tip: After shaping them with the bread crumbs, place them wide apart on a plate or tray and freeze them for at least 12 hrs. They will turn rock solid and will not stick to each other anymore. Then, you can seperate them from the plate and collect all of them in a ziplock freezer safe bag and store in the freezer for upto 2 months. When you need to use them, remove as many as you need, thaw them outside for an hour or microwave them for 20-30 seconds(more or less as per microwave)and then fry as usual.


Mishmash ! said...

Thats the beautiful presentation of a cutlet I have ever seen! What u said about the cutlet sandwich is very true...whenever i get into a lazy mood my husband usually resorts to this option...he also makes a wrap with chappathis, that also tastes good.


Meeta said...

This is absolutely a wonderful and very versatile dish. Thank you for bringing up some memories to me too. My grandmum used to make such cutlets.

Anonymous said...

hi shaheen, you're on a roll! I love these cutlets too...they definitely are comfort food. The one in ur pic is a masterpiece! - nitu

crossroads said...

Wonderful post !!! I got one suggestion here. Instead of using eggs I use rice powder mixed with water . this gives the cutlets a nice crunch texture.

Trupti said...

lovely looking Cutlets...though I don't eat fish...but I'll just leave out the fish and use some Navy or Fava beans instead...lovely idea to add biryani masala to it...thanks for the freezer tip.


Reena said...

Shaheen, I was planning to post this. May be later. I make cutlets often and almost the same way. I love your presentation.

The first line of your post brought smile to my face. Because when I fry cutlets these days the first less spicy batch is for my 3 year old and she waits for me to be done with it soon. She waits with a tomato ketchup in her hand:)):)):))

Hyderabadi's said...

Picture looks really wonderful :)

indosungod said...

absolutely delicious and lovely snack from your kitchen as usual Shaheen

Gattina said...

I grinned when I imagining to see that "A" hand sign, and the moment of "too good to spit it out" :) :)
I didn't try any patty-thing (blended with breadcrumb & potato) until I came here... my mom just fried whole chunks. And I know your recipe is always one of the best!

Sandeepa said...

That pic is awesome.

We to make fish chops the same way, and easiest is to use thae can to tuna.

Now you have inspired me, am going to make this soon :)

Anonymous said...

I love cutlets too. I was planning to make cutlets with cod fish this weekend... but canned tuna sounds much more easier. Will try it out this weekend....thanks Shaheen.


burcu said...

Looks and sound great. I should make some time to work on this recipe.

Anonymous said...

best thing abt cutlets is they freeze well. so can makes huge batches. yes canned tuna really cuts the process down

sabita said...

thats a very yummy looking cutlet...and mouth waterring too...
this is my blog do visit and leave ur comments...
bubyee...take care....sabita

Maneka Nirmal said...


dhanya said...

Ohh dear i too luvv cutlets...but never tasted fish cutlets :(
This was an amazing post!! I liked ur freezing tip...

babli said...

I love those. Crispy and cruncy it looks. :)

Mallugirl said...

mishmash, wrap also sounds good..

Meeta,wow! hope u make it for soren then.

Nitu, do try, they are extremely easy. They go well in a roll too.:)

Crossroads, rice powder is a good alternative. will try that too.

Trupti,I am sure they would taste as well with fava or any starchy beans.

Reena, The part of ur daughter waiting is so sweet. I guess these are the traditions of food memories here.

Indo, Hyderbadis,thanks.

Gattina, yep, it was too good to spit it out. Do try with the crumbs, they give a crunchy crust.

sandeepa, fish chops..you mean without potatoes?

Rg, i haven't tried with cod fish. how does that taste?i thot it would be better with the fleshier fishes.

Burcu, it would taste similar to one of ur yummy appetisers such as the meatballs.

Babli, do try and let me know.

Ki, u are right, freezing makes it easier to make large batches at one go.

Sabitha, Maneka, thanks.

Anonymous said...

I tried this recipe and it came out very good .My kids loved it although they dont like fish .Thanks a lot for the recipe.

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Sameer J said...

I always appreciate the valuable tips all your recipes tend to include.. I'll share one too for this one.. when I get REALLY lazy, instead of dealing w/ actual potatoes, I use 'instant mashed potatoes', the kind where you just mix water, milk and butter to the powdered-potato mix. Just be sure to use slightly less liquid than what the packet says (so that the consistency is thick) and makes the mixture easier to shape. Perfect for preparing a quick Iftar snack!

Term papers said...

The fish cutlets are an oxymoron..fish is good for me, fried is bad for me. but they are so easy to make here, as all the ingredients are straight from the pantry. canned tuna, potatoes, eggs, bread crumbs. so they get made on a regular basis.