Home / Articles / Wild Cuisine

Thai Fish Cakes

Thai fish cakes

Tuna is one of those foods that trampers couldn’t live without; it’s reasonably cheap, not too heavy, lasts for ever, and is virtually indestructible – as a consequence it’s become somewhat of a staple in the outdoors.

Whether you’re hiking the Milford Track or kayaking McMurdo Sound, odds are it’ll be on the menu at some point in the trip so it’s always good to know a few dishes to make with it. Here’s one that’s a little out of left field (actually it’s out of Thailand) that’ll ‘keep your burners stoked’ for another day on the trail and depending on how much chilli you add… it may light them too.


Serves: 4
Weight: 1250g
Volume: 1000ml
Calories: 1850
Cost: $12.20
Cooking time: 15min (not including the rice)
Fuel: 242ml white spirit, or 88g camping gas*

*Based on an MSR Whisperlite burning white spirit at sea level.

Special utensils
A decent sized mixing bowl and a fry pan (non-stick if possible)


  • 500g tuna
  • 100g potato flakes, rehydrated.
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
  • 1 thumb-size piece of ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 red chilli, chopped finely
  • 3 Tbsp coconut milk (from powder)
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 lime (rinded and sliced into wedges)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. chilli powder
  • 1/3 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 100ml Grapeseed oil (or other high-temp oil)
  • 200g Basmati Rice
  • 100ml Sweet chilli sauce

If they’re available, add an egg and use fresh fish for the gourmet version.


Combine the coconut milk, fish sauce, chilli powder, cumin, coriander and sugar in the mixing bowl and then add the garlic, ginger, chilli, lime rind and finally the tuna, spring onion and potato flakes (add water or more potato flakes if necessary to achieve a thick paste consistency). Take small handfuls and mould into thick patties about 5cm in diameter. Then set aside to firm up while you put the rice on. Heat the oil then add in the patties. They should sizzle vigorously if the oil is hot enough. Cook them for about a minute each side. Serve on a bed of rice, garnished with the fresh coriander, mint and cucumber and a little sweet chilli sauce on the side.

Support Wilderness

Since 1991, Wilderness has had one simple goal: to help Kiwis ‘See more, do more, live more’ of New Zealand.

If you value our mission, please consider subscribing. As a loyal supporter, you’ll receive these benefits:

  • New Zealand’s best outdoor journalism We’ve won multiple awards for our journalism and magazine production.
  • NZ’s best trips. Browse more than 610 trips with downloadable maps and route notes.
  • Trustworthy gear reviews. Each month we review gear we’ve been bashing and thrashing for months so you can determine if its worth your money.
  • Member benefits. Our WildCard provides discounts at more than 20 partners throughout New Zealand.
  • Your support goes a long way. Your subscription will help us fund NZ’s best outdoor journalists and writers and ensure Wilderness will be there to inspire the next generation of outdoor Kiwis.

A subscription costs as little as $7.00/month for instant access to all articles, trips, gear reviews and gear guides.

View all our subscription options and join the club.

Already a subscriber? Login Now.