Herbed fish cakes with cumin-thyme aioli

I have a thing for crab cakes. When made correctly, a great crab cake is everything you would want in a single, ravenous bite! The lightly browned exterior that contrasts with its delicate, buttery, sweet flesh gets me every time. So when I moved to Dubai and found a shortage of lump crab meat at fish markets across town, I had to think of something fast to give me a quick hit of crab cake love.

After a lot of experimenting and playing with every ingredient under the Dubai sun, the recipe for my fish cake was born. And what a discovery – it is equally as tempting and holds it’s own beside it’s crimson-clawed counterpart. I use a local filet of sole in this recipe, but you can easily substitute any firm white fish. Fresh tuna and salmon work beautifully as well.

The cumin thyme aioli can be used with either home-made mayo or a good quality, store bought one (recipe below). This dish goes beautifully with roasted potatoes, and a fresh green salad.


Special equipment:

  • 4 to 6 ramekins
  • Plastic wrap


  • 500 grams filet of sole or any firm white fish
  • 1 small egg
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon Maldon salt (or sea salt)
  • ¼ small red chili (optional), seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon red onion, minced
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 teaspoons of butter for cooking the fish cakes


Line your ramekins with plastic wrap, making sure that you have enough plastic hanging over the side to wrap the fish cakes.

Dice your fish filet into ½ cm cubes and put in a large bowl. Set aside.


In another bowl, whisk together egg, mustard, olive oil, and sesame oil. Pour this mixture over the fish.

Add the cumin, red onion, green onion, chili, and fresh thyme (if using). Gently combine all of the ingredients together until well incorporated.


Carefully divide the mixture between ramekins, filling each one to the top. Cover with the plastic wrap hanging over the sides, and slightly pat the fish cake down.

Place the ramekins into the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up (do not freeze, you just want them to be firm). It is very important that the fish cakes are very cold so that all of the ingredients adhere to each other. This is a critical step in making this recipe; otherwise the fish cakes could fall apart if you cook them when they are not cold.

Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add butter and olive oil, and very carefully remove the fishcakes from the ramekins and plastic wrap. Using a spatula, gently place each fishcake on the pan, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the fish cake, undisturbed, for three minutes or until the bottom is brown. Carefully flip it over to the other side, and cook until browned and cooked through.

Ingredients for the cumin aioli:

  • 2 tablespoons homemade or good quality store bough mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • A splash of extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Fresh thyme leaves


Whisk all of the ingredients together and serve alongside the fishcakes.








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