Fish Cakes (Cha Ca)

Fish cakes and fish balls are conveniently available in the freezer section of any grocery store. You can simply take them home and fry them or add to your favorite soups and other dishes. Unfortunately, store-bought ones contain preservatives and additives that can harm one’s health. With this recipe, we will show you how easy you can make your own fish cakes at home. These fish cakes are made from scratch using only fresh ingredients. The best part is this recipe shows you the different ways on how to cook the fish cakes. These fish cakes are lightly seasoned yet absolutely delicious. Once you have done these fish cakes at home, we assure you that you will never go back to store-bought ones.


This recipe takes 45 minutes to make. The fish mixture needs to chill for about 2 hours. Serves 4.

1 pound tilapia fillets, diced
1 shallot, chopped
2 tsp fish sauce
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp tapioca starch
1 tbsp vegetable oil


Put diced tilapia fillets, chopped shallot, and fish sauce in a large mixing bowl.
Mix well to make sure the seasoning is evenly distributed.
Evenly spread the fish mixture on a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap.
Place the baking sheet in the freezer and let the fix mixture chill for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Transfer the fish mixture to a food processor.
Add ground white pepper, baking powder, tapioca starch, and vegetable oil.
Pulse the fish mixture for a few seconds at a time making sure that you scrape around the food processor’s bowl every after 20 pulses.
Once you get a smooth paste, divide the mixture into 4.
Put each portion of the fish mixture on a plastic wrap brushed with oil.
Using the plastic wrap, press each portion firmly to release large air pockets.
Form each portion into a ball, then flatten to form a pattie.
Wrap each pattie in the plastic wrap and place the fish patties in the freezer to chill for 20 minutes.

To deep-fry, heat 2 cups of oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until the temperature reaches 350°F.
Turn the heat down to low and gently slide the fish cake into the oil.
Fry for 10 to 12 minutes while turning the fish cake a few times for even cooking.
Place the fried fish cake on a plate lined with paper towel to remove excess oil.
Cut the fish cake into thin slices and serve.

To steam, place the fish cakes on a steaming plate lined with parchment paper.
Steam for 10 to 12 minutes.

To make fish balls, oil your hands to prevent the fish mixture from sticking while you form them into balls.
Steam the fish balls for 6 to 7 minutes.

To bake, brush oil on both sides of the patties.
Arrange the fish cakes on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
Bake in the oven at 400°F for 25 minutes.
Make sure to flip the fish cakes halfway through the cooking time to ensure even cooking.
Let the fish cakes cool before slicing and serving.

Ideas And Tips:

Aside from tilapia, you can use mackerel, pollock, flounder, cod, haddock, grouper, sole or pangasius.

You can also use chicken, pork, beef, crabmeat, shrimp, squid or lobster meat.

Always remember to keep the fish cakes cool before cooking. This helps achieve a chewy and springy texture when cooked.

These fish cakes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Fish Cakes (Cha Ca)
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