Traditionally, these cutlets are made with canned fish in Srilanka. I am making it with fresh tuna today. I have taken about 400 grams of fresh tuna for making these fish cutlets. Boil the tuna for about 6-7 minutes. Remove the scum from the water while the fish is boiling. Once the fish is cooked, remove from the water and set aside. Shred the fish with a fork. I used boneless fish today. If using fish with bones, make sure to remove the bones and the skin while shredding the fish. Once the fish is nicely shredded, set aside.
I have about 400 grams of potatoes that have been boiled and peeled. The quantity of potatoes and fish should be equal for these Sri Lankan style fish cutlets. Gently mash the potatoes to a smooth consistency. Set aside.
Heat vegetable oil in a pan. Add in the mustard seeds, fennel seeds, minced ginger, and some finely chopped curry leaves. Saute for a few seconds. Add in the finely chopped onions and the finely chopped green chillies. Add in the salt. Saute for a few minutes till the onions are soft. Add in the turmeric powder and the black pepper powder. Cook for a minute. Add the mashed potatoes to the pan. Make sure that there are no lumps in the potatoes and they are mashed to a smooth consistency. Add in the shredded fish. Squeeze some lime juice into the pan. Mix everything well to combine. Check for seasoning at this stage and add some salt if necessary. Mix well to combine. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Now let’s make the fish balls for the cutlets. Do not make the balls really big in size. Keep it small, similar to the size of ping pong balls. Do not go bigger than that. Be sure to make tight balls so they do not open up when cooking.
I got about close to 30 balls today. Once the balls are made, I prefer to reshape the balls once again so they are rolled tight and look even. It’s an extra step but they look really nice. They look aesthetically nice when they are smooth and even. Set aside.
Now let’s make the egg wash. Break an egg into a bowl. Add in a pinch of salt and a few tablespoons of milk. Mix well with a whisk to combine. Set aside.
Get the breading station ready. The bread crumbs, the egg wash and the fish balls. Take a ball and place it in the egg wash. I like to use a spoon to coat the egg wash on the fish balls so my hands remain dry. Wet hands can make the bread crumbs clump up and clumpy cutlets are definitely a no no. Add the wet fish balls to the bread crumbs and sprinkle the bread crumbs all over the fish ball. Take the bread crumb coated fish ball and gently roll it between the palms so the bread crumbs can adhere well to the fish balls. This is an important step to ensure that the bread crumbs do not fall off while frying. Fine bread crumbs are preferred for this recipe. Readymade boxed breadcrumbs work really well.
Once all the fish balls are breaded and ready, we will do the breading once again for a second time. Take the breaded cutlet and dip it in egg wash once more. Do not leave it in egg wash for a long time. Just wet the fish balls briefly and place it in the bread crumbs. Sprinkle bread crumbs on the fish balls and roll again. Breading the cutlets two times makes for really crispy and crunchy fish cutlets. This is an extra step but believe me, these make insanely crispy cutlets. Make sure to roll the breaded balls in between the palm so the crumbs adhere well to the cutlets. Otherwise they may separate while frying in oil.
Our cutlets are breaded and ready. Set aside to rest for about 30 minutes. These cutlets freeze well and can be frozen at this stage. If freezing, freeze as a single layer. Just thaw the cutlets when needed and proceed with the frying.
Now let’s fry the fish cutlets.
Heat vegetable oil in a pan until hot. Add the cutlets to the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. If the temperature of oil falls, the cutlets will become very oily and greasy. So fry in batches and do not add too many cutlets at one time. After adding the cutlets, do not disturb them for a minute. The bread crumbs are fragile and they will break if pressed with a spatula. So do not touch them after adding them to the hot oil. After a minute, try to turn the cutlets once. Let them cook until they are golden.
Once they are golden, remove the fish cutlets from the oil and drain on paper towels. These are best served hot.
- Prep Time: 30m
- Cook Time: 30m
Keywords: srilankan fish cutlets