Fish cakes, aka “croquettes” or “fish patties,” are staple fare in various parts of the American South—any place, in fact, where canned fish is more affordable than fresh or frozen. Fish cakes are usually made with flour and corn meal, but I didn’t want to miss out on the budget benefits of this dish just because I had gone low carb. So I set about adapting this traditional  croquettes recipe.

In my version I have:

  • substituted flax meal for the grain products,
  • added some seasonings, and
  • given myself leeway to use tuna when that’s what I have on hand. (Salmon and mackerel are the more traditional choices.)

I have also invented a dill sauce as a way to “fancy it up” when I need to. (That recipe is further down this page.)

My husband is constantly amazed that no matter which fish I use, these patties “don’t have a strong fishy flavor.” And it’s true: the binding agents tone down the fish to give this dish a mild and pleasing taste.

In some areas of the South it’s common to serve croquettes with rice; in other places that’s unheard of. Some people eat their fish cakes with tartar sauce or ketchup, and others wouldn’t dream of it. So eat these however you like: just make sure you serve some good healthy vegetables on the side!

Low Carb Fish Cakes

Note: This recipe feeds two adults and a toddler, and usually offers up one or two leftover patties for the next day’s lunch. (Not bad for under $5.00!) Please adjust your amounts accordingly.

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp dried onion flakes
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • optional: 1 tsp dill (omit if making the dill sauce)
  • optional: 2 tsp parsley
  • 3 6- or 7-ounce cans of tuna, salmon, or mackerel*, well drained
  • 1/4 – 3/8 cup flax meal

*Mackerel may not be available in anything under 12 ounces. In that case, use two 12-ounce cans and 4 eggs, and adjust the seasonings a bit. (The important thing to remember is 1 egg to every 6-7 ounces of fish.)

Directions

  1. Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add the seasonings and mix well. (We’re starting with the eggs and seasonings so the dried onion can start absorbing some moisture.)
  2. Stir in the fish until the fish is evenly distributed in the egg mixture.
  3. Mix in 1/4 cup of the flax meal. Start by using a spoon or fork, then move on to kneading with your hands. The mixture will begin to feel a bit more “stiff” under your hands. Knead until the texture of the mixture is even throughout.
  4. You may need a little more flax meal, but not much. You want a fairly loose patty that holds together but still feels moist. A mixture that’s dry and “tight” will become too dense and gummy when cooked. Knead in just enough flax meal, then form the mixture into 8-10 patties.
  5. Put some cooking oil in a large skillet and heat it over medium heat. Place patties in the skillet (you’ll only be able to fit 4-6 at a time). Cook until medium brown on one side, then flip them and brown the other side. Place on a paper-towel lined plate when done.
  6. Add more oil to the skillet as needed between batches. After all the patties have been cooked, move immediately into making the dill sauce (if using). Serve over riced cauliflower if desired.

Yield: 8-10 patties.

Nutritional Information:For the tuna version, each of eight patties contains approximately 2.5 g carbohydrates, 1.5 g fiber, 1.0 g net carbs, 22.4 g protein, 4.1 g fat, and 140.8 calories.

Dill Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp dill
  • pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Drain any excess oil from the pan in which you cooked the fish patties. (I never have any extra oil, as the croquettes do soak some up, but you might until you’ve had some practice.) Turn heat to low, and add the sour cream. Stir to loosen an leftover fish bits and make them part of the sauce.
  2. Add cream to taste and stir again. A smaller amount of cream will give you a thicker sauce that may need to be served on the side, but it will allow the flavor of the sour cream to come through in the final product. A larger amount of cream will give a thinner sauce that can be used like gravy, but it will weaken the taste of the sour cream.
  3. Add the dill and salt. Stir again and remove from heat.

Yield: 1/2 – 3/4 cup of sauce.

Nutritional Information:For the maximum cream version of the recipe, 1 tablespoon contains approximately 0.5 g carbohydrates, 0.0 g fiber, 0.5 g net carbs, 0.5 g protein, 7.0 g fat, and 66.9 calories. (The calories and fat will be cut significantly by using less cream.)

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