Fishcakes with Swai

Not to be an alarmist but food prices continue to climb.  Beef is at an all time high and chicken is starting to climb.  Seafood is already out of reach for many.

But every once in a while you still get a hankering for something with fish.  And I’ve been cooking with Swai now for a couple of years.  This farm-raised fish has a light, white texture and color and an equally light flavor.  In fact, it’s almost flavorless and needs a little help from seasonings.

I’ve fried it and sautéed it and recently I used it to come up with my version of fishcakes.  And they were light tasting but still had that fish cake texture that’s a bit more “stick to the ribs”.  Plus, the thing I like about swai is that it’s about the most reasonably priced fish out there selling at about $4 a pound.

Most recently I bought a package of individually wrapped, quick frozen filets.  That’s fine with me because if they’re sold un-frozen at the grocery store then they’ve been thawed.  I don’t like the idea of buying some thawed fish and then freezing it again if I’m not going to cook all of it at once.  I’d rather buy the hard-frozen filets and then thaw them at home right before cooking.

What I did was take a look at a bunch of fish cake recipes and then I took a look at what I had in the pantry and in the fridge.  I prefer to use what I keep on hand.  Buying special ingredients tends to push the price up and if you don’t use up the special ingredients it adds to waste and expense.  So making fishcakes with swai just seems to make a lot of sense.

So, here’s what I came up with for Swai Fishcakes.  Give them a try and let me know how you like them.  You can eat them as a fishcake sandwich or as an entrée.  I tried them both way and liked them both ways.

Recipe: Fish Cakes with Swai

Summary: Here’s a light tasty fishcake made with Swai which is perfect for sandwiches or dinner.


  • 1 lb Swai filets
  • ½ cup chopped white or red onion
  • ½ cup chopped bell pepper
  • 1 chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup cracker or bread crumbs (make your own rather than buying it)
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise or “salad dressing”
  • 1 lime (juice only)
  • 1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Tabasco or other hot sauce or a couple of shakes cayenne
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp corn meal in a shaker
  • 2-3 tbsp cooking oil


  • Get out a large skillet, cutting board, chef’s knife, a medium mixing bowl and a small bowl.
  • Prep the fish by chopping about half of it into small chunks and the other half into a fine dice.
  • Put the fish in the mixing bowl.
  • Rinse cutting board and chop onion, bell pepper and jalapeno and add to the bowl with the fish.
  • Add cracker or bread crumbs and stir everything up.
  • Add mayo and lime then a couple of good shakes of salt and pepper and stir everything. Taste.
  • Add 1 tsp Dijon mustard and about half as much Tabasco/cayenne as you think you need and stir well.
  • Taste. Then adjust seasonings to taste. Add more Dijon mustard and/or Tabasco/cayenne if needed. Taste again.
  • Remember you can always add more seasoning but once it’s in you can’t take it out!
  • Add the egg and stir everything together really well.
  • Form the patties by scooping up about 1/3 cup and forming it in your hand. (You’re going to make 8 fishcakes)
  • Put fishcakes onto bakery sheet. When all are made, put the sheet in the refrigerator for about ½ hour.
  • Remove sheet from fridge. Put skillet on stove turned to medium heat. Add the oil to the pan.
  • Shake corn meal generously over each side of each fishcake
  • Fry each cake about 4 minutes per side until browned.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

It’s that easy!  Now, while the bakery sheet is in the fridge you can make a quick slaw with some cabbage and just enough mayo to bind it but not so much that it gets too liquid.  Use this as a topping for your fishcakes if you’re making a sandwich/burger out of it.

Otherwise serve with oven fries or some yellow grits and a salad to make a tasty meal.

The Cheap Bastid Test:  1 lb of Swai filets is $4.  The veggies added about $1.  The egg cost $.15.  The cracker/bread crumbs cost maybe $.25 if you make them yourself.  Limes are $.10 right now.  And let’s call the mustard, mayo, cayenne, Dijon and cooking oil another $1.  Total for this dish for 4 was $6.50 or $1.63 each.  Add another $.37 each for buns at the dollar store to make fishcake burgers and you’re at $2.00 per person or $1 each for fishcake burgers.  That’s some pretty inexpensive eating!

That’s the Cheap Bastid Way:  Eat Good. Eat Cheap. Be Grateful! 

About Walter Blevins

My wife started to call me Cheap Bastid a while back because I enjoyed coming up with dinners that cost next to nothing--and making them taste good. Yeah, I love to cook. And I love to cook good food cheap. I'm not a chef and I'm definitely not anything close to a gourmet. I'm just a home cook who grew up in a home where cooking was from scratch and was a little bit Midwest and a little bit country. That's because my Mom was from Michigan and my Dad was from Kentucky. I started sharing recipes when my daughter called me in 2006 and asked for my recipe for Swiss Steak. That year for Christmas I put together a cookbook for my 2 kids called "Dad's Everyday Cookbook and Kitchen Survival Guide". And I heard back that they both use it regularly. It was full of basic recipes that I had cooked for them when they were growing up. I work hard at creating recipes that are original and creative and inexpensive. You won't find a foo-foo foodie approach to my recipes and style. I believe that it's OK for food to go up the side of a plate. Food is for eating--it doesn't have to be pretty. And I write about my cooking and my recipes so that I can share them. I hope you enjoy these posts. Leave me a comment--that you liked something or that you didn't, it doesn't matter. I'd love to hear from you.
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2 Responses to Fishcakes with Swai

  1. Great post. I make a similar dish with canned salmon or mackerel. I never thought of putting the coleslaw on top, but that does sound good. When I want to serve a big salad with nothing much else for dinner, I make these fish balls from the canned salmon or mackerel too, make them about golf ball sized and put a few on top of the salad. The kids actually like it. I think kids always like fried food! Anyway, great, great idea with the coleslaw on top, also I have never bought fresh fish to do this and I might give that a try too.

    • Walter Blevins says:

      Thanks Sheila. Give the swai a try. You and your kids may really like the decidedly non-fish flavor. In fact, as the recipe shows, to give it flavor, you need to add something like a bit of mustard or cayenne or even horseradish.

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