How to Cook St Helena Fish Cakes – A Picture Recipe

/, Food and Drink, St Helena/How to Cook St Helena Fish Cakes – A Picture Recipe

How to Cook St Helena Fish Cakes – A Picture Recipe

How to cook St Helena fish cakes – a photo recipe.

How to cook St Helena fish cakes – a photo recipe.


St Helena fish cakes consumed hot from the pan is one of life’s satisfying pleasures, especially after you’ve toiled in the kitchen for the past hour.  Freshly cooked, these fish patties are impossible to resist eating with fingers – they’re totally divine.

Fish cakes have long been an island specialty, the quintessence of St Helena food. Made from fish and potato this culinary delight is a popular feature on eatery menus and the dinner table.


How To Make Fish Cakes For A Taste Of St Helena

They’re so popular no St Helena holiday is considered complete without trying the world’s best fish cakes ever! They come highly recommended.

Once you’re hooked you’ll probably want to learn how to make fish cakes for yourself.  You don’t need Master Chef skills and by following our easy fish cake recipe, a little taste of St Helena can be created wherever you are in the world.


Tuna Fish Cakes Are The Best

St Helena food displays a ‘fusion’ of our British, Malay, African and Chinese heritage. Traditionally, ‘Saint’ dishes are simple and wholesome; nothing too showy and are quick and easy to make, using simple ingredients. Like plo, pumpkin fratters and bread ‘n’ dance.

Fish cake ingredients - spices and herbs.

Fish cake ingredients – spices and herbs.

Fresh cut of tuna – the perfect fish cake ingredient to cook St Helena fish cakes.

Fresh cut of tuna – the perfect fish cake ingredient to cook St Helena fish cakes.


As you might expect of an island community, fish is a diet staple; tuna, wahoo, bonita, mackerel, soldier, grouper (jack), conger eel and crayfish. Although, surprisingly, for an island community, fresh fish is not always easily available. We have a flagging fish industry and the Fish Shop in Jamestown quickly sells out of its main product; tuna. St Helenians (Saints) however, love fishing and it’s a popular hobby.


Making Homemade Fish Cakes ‘Like Mum Did’

Recently my mediocre cooking skills were called upon to meet a last minute deadline of a fishcake feature for our ‘Breeze’ e-magazine. I hadn’t made fishcakes for years, preferring to buy from the professionals. The request was to make them just ‘like Mum did’ back in the day; flat and crispy. Today’s preference is bigger and golden.

Out came the St Helena cook book and all the fish cake ingredients were diligently lined up, at the ready.


Shredded tuna, bacon and chopped onion.

Shredded tuna, bacon and chopped onion. The St Helena fish cakes recipe.

The St Helena Fish Cakes Recipe


Ingredients To Cook St Helena Fishcakes:

1lb (450g) fish – St Helena fish cakes are traditionally made of fresh tuna, wahoo or mackerel. Canned tuna fish cakes or even salmon would work if fresh fish is not an option, although they’ll require extra work to keep their shape.

1lb (450g) potatoes

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 rashers of bacon, finely chopped (optional)

Chilli, finely chopped (optional)

Pinch of thyme

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 egg, beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of mixed spice or nutmeg

Crushed garlic.


Making Homemade Fish Cakes:

1. Boil potatoes in salted water until cooked, then drain and mash finely. Place into a large bowl and leave until cool.

2. Wash fish and shred or mince with a fork until very fine. This can also be done in a food processor. The finer you shred the fish and mash the potatoes, the fluffier the results.  These fish cakes with mashed potatoes are to die for.

3. Heat oil and fry onion, until soft. Add parsley, thyme, chilli and bacon and fry onion until lightly browned.

4. Remove from heat and combine with the mashed potato. Add the minced fish, spices, garlic and beaten egg. Mix together well.

5. Using your hands, shape the mixture into patties roughly 1/2 inch thick and 3 inches round. Flatten slightly and dust with flour if necessary.

6. Fry the fish cakes in hot oil for about 3 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Serve immediately. You might not have much choice!

This recipe yields approximately 12 fish cakes.


Potatoes, boiled and mashed.

Potatoes, boiled then mashed.  The traditional St Helena fishcake recipe.

Adding parsley to the frying onion.

Cooking fish cakes. Adding parsley to the frying onion. The St Helena tuna fish cake recipe.

Shredding the tuna.

Shredding the tuna with a fork, the best fish for fish cakes.  This can also be done in a food processor.

Tomato gravy also on the go

Want to know what to eat with fish cakes – tomato and onion gravy makes the perfect fish cake accompaniments.


Adding chopped bacon to the mix.

Adding chopped bacon to the mix, fry until lightly browned.  How to cook St Helena food.

The onion, bacon and herb mix being combined with the mashed potatoes.

The fried onion, bacon and parsley mix being combined with the mashed potatoes. Making an easy fish cake recipe.

Adding fish to the mix.

Adding fresh tuna fish to the mix.  The finer you shred tuna and mash the potatoes, the tastier your tuna fish cakes will be.

Mixing in.

Mixing in the spices, garlic and beaten egg.  Add a good dose of chilli for spicy fish cakes. The St Helena fishcakes recipe.

The final mixture being shaped into patties.

The final mixture being shaped into fish patties.  Making St Helena tuna fish cakes.

Into the frying pan and the now the lovely smells take over!

Into the frying pan and let the lovely smells of fried fish cake take over!

Rice, fishcakes and tomato gravy, it doesn't get more Saint than that!

Rice, fishcakes and tomato gravy, it doesn’t get more Saint than that!  St. Helena Island has the best fishcakes recipe!


What To Serve With Fish Cakes

St Helena fish cakes are traditionally served as a main meal with rice, vegetables and a tomato and onion gravy. These fish fritters also make scrumptious sandwich fillers, on a roll with ketchup.  And for those who prefer to eat healthy fish cakes a green salad is tops.

I like spicy fish cakes but opted out of adding chilli or ‘bite’ (Saint speak for hot) this time round, they taste just as yummy and a chilli sauce or flakes can be added later.


Thai Fish Cakes Vs St Helena Fish Cakes

I must mention.  I tried a Thai fish cake in Chiang Mai once and even a Thai fish burger and call me biased – they don’t measure up to our St Helena fish cakes!

Pop these babies in the freezer uncooked, and you’ll have frozen fish cakes on hand for a quick meal.  Handy when you’re rushed off your feet, after a long day at work or for those times when comfort food is required and you just want to taste a little bit of St Helena.


Not Just Fish Lovers

One last thing. Even those who claim not to like fish, will like/love St Helena fish cakes. They are just that good.


A very tempting sight.

St Helena tuna fish cakes. A very tempting sight.

By |2019-08-06T09:28:50+00:00February 25th, 2015|Culture, Food and Drink, St Helena|18 Comments


  1. Willy boy January 15, 2016 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    Daisy Grey’s fishcakes on Ascension Island.. great. Took some back when I left and then found out my wife to be couldn’t eat ‘hot’ chilli based food, more for me then.

    • Saints January 19, 2016 at 1:38 am - Reply

      Ah yes fresh tuna on Ascension Island is hard to beat and we bet Daisy’s fishcakes were delicious.

      • Neville MC Manus January 19, 2016 at 11:50 am - Reply

        Do wish the RMS would continue its voyage via Namibia to St Helena Island so we could all enjoy a break from this hectic life in the city . Go by air is not OK for us capetonians as we have to travel to Johannesburg to get a flight to St Helena and back. Not good for us to have to travel at more cost via JHBG.

        Maybe one day we will have flights via St Helena to the UK from CT.

        Just come home from a Trafalgar tour of Europe and what a cost to us SA citizens. We visited Berlin Posnan ,Warsaw, Krako. Auswitz, Berknau,Budapest in Hungary where we got caught a5t the border as they had closed the borders alto9gether to prevent refugees coming. To get to Austia (Wein) we had to go vu Slovakia . Viennia was great and so with the Viennese concerts we then went on to BRNO, Rothburg and Frankfurt. Not satisfied with this stren gous journey we took a break for a week at Strasbourg and Boppard on the Rhine before returning home. Plenty of happy memories.

        Relived all the ww2 sites like the berlin wall between East and West ,Brandenburg gate ,Check point Charlie and enjoyed the tour no end. Worth the money

  2. […] tuna on display at a fishmongers priced at £24.95 per kg. My word, what an expensive batch of fishcakes they’d make. Back home on St Helena the equivalent costs £4.20 – and we think […]

  3. Brendon March 1, 2015 at 7:25 am - Reply

    Sounds very tasty got to give it a try!

    • Saints January 19, 2016 at 1:36 am - Reply

      Hope you’ve tried the recipe and fishcakes are a regular on your menu!

  4. jacqueline murdoch February 27, 2015 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    My first and lasting memories are of saturday lunches on the exiles veranda and fish cakes made by the wonderful Ethel Bowers. Any one know if ethal is still on st h. Please give her my love if she is.

    • Baz May 19, 2015 at 6:10 pm - Reply

      Yes the last i know of her she was working with a retail shop in Jamestown 2012.
      I remember you husband having worked with him at the C&W earth station in early 80’s.
      I still got a copy of his signature on my reference he gave me as he was last with the
      Comms office in Georgetown.
      Fond memories!
      Barrie Williams (Now in Glos UK 2015)

    • Saints January 19, 2016 at 1:33 am - Reply

      Hi Jacquie our apologies for not replying sooner. Ethel is most definitely still here on St Helena and is working in Thorpes Emporium. We will pass on your message.

  5. Julie Fowler February 27, 2015 at 12:04 am - Reply

    Very impressed, must try them out myself 🙂

  6. MAGS AND MERV THOMAS February 26, 2015 at 11:37 pm - Reply


  7. Rob and Glynis Steer February 26, 2015 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    Ann’s Place does make tasty fish cakes and the Consulate’s are good but the most delicious we’ve ever tasted both on St Helena and in Cape Town are made by Cecily Williams.

  8. Patrick G Henry February 25, 2015 at 9:03 am - Reply

    Yea I must say Sharon they were very nice I also had some on lovely fresh brown bread, you gave me one dozen. Lovely, very delicious.

  9. Neville and Jean McManus February 25, 2015 at 6:37 am - Reply

    What a lovely idea of making fish cakes from the tuna you obtain around the Island. We used to go for the fish cakes at the restaurant alongside the wharf on St Helena Is but some days they were not available much to our dissapointmen t. We brought home 5 x tins of Tuna though from the canning factory at Ruperts Bay.
    One day we ran out of petriol down in the valley near St Pauls church and as luck woul;d have it someone motoring bye realised our plight after seeing me holding up the petrol cap. and returtned with a bottle of petrol in a brandy bottle. I guess the locals thought you South Africans have a lot of faith in our brandy sold at the bottle store …..well we got going again and coasted down into Jamestown and filled up at the Petrol station alongside shady lane

    • Saints February 26, 2015 at 12:26 am - Reply

      Hi Neville and Jean – Thanks for sharing your brandy/petrol story! We have to say – fresh fish makes the best fishcakes!

  10. Karel van der Molen February 25, 2015 at 5:36 am - Reply

    I remember well, all those years ago, the taste, the aroma and the sheer pleasure of eating my fist fish cake made with such loving care by Irene Harris at Harris’ Guest House ……

    • Neville and Jean McManus February 25, 2015 at 6:42 am - Reply

      Yes we too enjoyed a meal or two at the Harrisis’ Guest House but did you know tjhat they actually spent time on Ascension Island for a while prior to starting their Guest House on St Helena. Mr Harris was a baker by trade and we all enjoyed his cooking and deliciousties pastries. The Fish cakes too were great ahnd with a bowl of salad to accompany the dish it went down well. Happy memories of the many dinners we enjoyed at this Guest house.

    • Saints February 26, 2015 at 12:27 am - Reply

      Ah yes – Irene at Harris’ Guest House has that special touch!

Leave A Comment

error: Content is protected !!