Thai Tilapia Cakes with Lime Dipping Sauce Recipe

Transform budget-friendly tilapia into bite-size crispy dippers for an alternative to the usual fish fillets
Thai Tilapia Cakes with Lime Dipping Sauce

Photography Terry Brennan, Food Styling Lara Miklasevics

Adding more healthy fish to your diet is easier when there are new ideas at your fingertips. If your family is a little cool toward a fish fillet, try these crispy fish cakes coated in crunchy sesame seeds for something different. Budget-friendly tilapia is transformed into bite-size dippers with a hint of lime and herbs in this recipe by Twin Cities chef and cooking instructor Robin Asbell, which appeared in Real Food. Fish sauce gives the dipping sauce a nice burst of umami, she notes, but you can substitute soy sauce if you prefer.

Thai Tilapia Cakes with Lime Dipping Sauce

Makes 36 cakes, about 6 servings

For the Dipping Sauce
¼ cup fish sauce or soy sauce
¼ cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ cup fresh spearmint, chopped
1 large jalapeño, minced

For the Fish Cakes
1½ pounds tilapia, skinned, patted dry
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons minced ginger
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 large egg
1 tablespoon lime zest
¼ cup cilantro
2 large scallions
¾ cup sesame seeds
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, for cooking

  1. Prepare the dipping sauce. In a medium bowl, stir the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, spearmint and jalapeño. Set aside. (You could make this ahead and refrigerate in a covered container up to 3 days.)
  2. Cut fish in 1-inch chunks. In a food processor, grind the garlic and ginger as finely as possible. Add the tilapia, sugar, salt, white pepper, pepper flakes, and the egg and pulse to coarsely chop and mix. Add the lime zest, cilantro, and scallions and pulse to mix. Do not purée too thoroughly. Scrape the mixture out into a bowl and chill it for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Spread the sesame seeds on a plate. Form 1 tablespoon sized portions of the fish mixture and place them on the sesame seeds, then carefully coat them, flattening slightly into disks.
  4. Heat a large cast iron or nonstick pan over high heat, then coat with the oil. Carefully place half of the fish cakes in the oil, not touching, reducing the heat to medium when they are all in the pan, sizzling, for about 2 minutes per side, until cooked through. Serve with a side of the reserved dipping sauce.

Nutrition info Thai Tilapia Cakes with Lime Dipping Sauce (per serving): Calories: 310, Fat: 16g (Sat: 3 g), Cholesterol: 85 mg, Sodium: 1430 mg, Carb: 12g, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 6g, Protein: 30g

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Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.