Cilantro-Lime Fish Cakes with Sriracha Lime Mayonnaise: Leftovers Redone

Leftover fish and rice find themselves transformed into a cilantro-lime fish cake topped off with a spicy sriracha lime mayonnaise.

Do you ever feel like you’re walking around with a sign on your back that says, “Not cool enough?”

I suppose it may just say, “kick me,” and the “not cool enough” factor is inferred. It is on my back. I can’t see it all that well.

I like to imagine the sign changes with each person who sees it. While one person may look and see that my sign says “standoffish,” someone who has known me longer may see that it says “reserved,” which is closer to the truth. Does it really matter what one person reads in comparison to the other? Should it bother me that some, but not all, associate kindness with extroversion or that sarcasm is often misread? People are entitled to their own opinions, and it remains within yourself whether or not you seek to change their mind.

If I told I was going to serve leftovers you may instantly turn away, bored at the thought of a meal of reheated tubs of food. However, if I presented it as a crisp, lightly fried rice cake with flaky fish topped with a bit of sriracha spice, you may stay a while and see what I’m serving. It’s all in the packaging and the wording, but if they decide to leave when they see the “leftovers” sign it’s their loss.

It’s probably not cool to continuously tell you about my leftovers. The chicken salad in a jar: leftovers. Fish cakes: leftovers. Who said leftovers had to be boring and reheated in the microwave?

We try to keep a regular amount of fish in our diet, but one of the things that always bothers me is leftover fish. I do not want to waste good fish. It’s not a resource I can just throw away, but reheated fish just isn’t all that exciting. That is, unless it’s turned into crispy fish cakes and served with a spicy mayonnaise. Suddenly leftovers are no longer leftovers, and instead, they’re a perfectly presentable meal.

A Few Notes

  • Feel free to approximate the rice and fish as long as you end up with around 3 1/2 cups of substance. You can mix and match a bit if your leftovers aren’t exact.
  • I used Hinode’s Medium Grain Rice. (They didn’t pay me to say that. I work with them, but I happen to also like their rice. That’s why it’s a good relationship.) The medium grain is a bit stickier than your average long grain. If you have long grain, add a bit of extra mayonnaise a tablespoon at a time to help it stick together if you have problems forming your cakes.
  • You can make these with a variety of leftover fish. They are equally delicious with salmon or whitefish, tuna, snapper, or tilapia. I used a snapper that had been prepared with lemon and grilled in a parchment bag. If you have a salty piece of fish, you may want to decrease the salt level a bit.
2 cups cooked rice, cooled
1 1/2 cups leftover fish
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup diced green onions
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 egg
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
2-4 tablespoons butter
greens of choice
Sriracha Lime Mayonnaise for garnish (recipe below)

In a large bowl, mix together the rice, fish, bread crumbs, green onions, and cilantro. In a separate bowl, whisk mayonnaise, egg, lime juice, salt, and pepper together until smooth. Add the mayonnaise mixture to the rice and fish. Stir to combine.

Using a 3-tablespoon scoop, press together the mixture. Flatted the scoop into a patty and carefully roll in the breadcrumbs to cover. Repeat until all the mixture is gone.

In a heavy-bottomed skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Add the fish cakes to fill the pan. Cook for 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside. Repeat with remaining butter and fish cakes.

Serve warm on a bed of greens with sriracha mayonnaise.

Makes 15-18 fish cakes.

Sriracha Lime Mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
4 teaspoons sriracha sauce
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro

Add the egg yolk, vinegar, lime juice, sriracha, and salt to the tall vessel of an immersion blender or a tall cup. Add the oil last slowly so that it sits on top of the other ingredients. Place the immersion blender blade at the bottom of the cup and turn it on. With the blender running, slowly start moving the blade towards the top, working in all the oil until it has been incorporated. Pulse the blender up and down a few times to mix thoroughly. Stir in cilantro.

Copyright © Food for My Family.


  1. I live in a place without much access to good fresh seafood. How do you think these would be with canned salmon? A poor substitute I know, but my kids like them.

  2. Ohhh I loveee spicy mayo and need to incorporate it into my diet on the regular 🙂 I wish fish was better liked in my house, I love it, my parents do not, so I don’t get to use it often. I would LOVE to try to make these though!

  3. Yes, leftover fish is a problem! I have a hard enough time getting my hubby to eat it in the first place and you can just forget about it as leftovers! I had forgotten about fish cakes! I bet I would just have to say “fried” and he’d be on board!

  4. Leftovers or not, this dish looks amazing and the sriracha-lime mayo is pretty genius!

    I always get the “standoffish” sign too – well, at least until I warm up to them and they realize that I’m reasonably cool. 😉

    • It’s strange that quiet observance can be treated so many different ways. I just find it interesting more than anything at this point.

  5. I love fish cakes and I agree that leftovers do not have to be boring!
    PS. I think the sign on your back says “coolest chick on the block!” 🙂

  6. Rachel says:

    I want to make fish just to have these leftovers. Drooling once again. And that’s something when it comes to me and fish.

  7. You’re totally smart. Your sign says so. And I think I’ve known you long enough to know that I’m spot on with my observation. ; )

    These are gonna make my man happy.

  8. I ALWAYS think fish cakes are cool enough. And these ones are spicy and cool at the same time. 😉

  9. I wish we had fish leftovers! We always eat all of the fish in one sitting:) It’s extra expensive to buy quality fish where I am (compared to living in Seattle several months ago!) so maybe I’ll used the canned idea one evening…I do have a can of salmon in the cupboard! Hello amazing end of the month meal when the groceries have disappeared from the refrigerator.

  10. It’s extra expensive to buy quality fish where I am (compared to living in Seattle several months ago!) so maybe I’ll used the canned idea one evening…I do have a can of salmon in the cupboard!

  11. Mmmmm, Shaina, this looks fantastic! I adore fish cakes. 🙂

  12. i would NEVER call these leftovers!! they look amazing!

    and……for the record…..I would call you sweet, smart and witty! xoxo

  13. These look incredible! Fabulous Shaina

  14. Try as we might, we’re not much of a fish household. We both really really want to be, but so far it’s just not happening. However, I wanted to say that those are some gorgeous photos, and they make me want to be a fish household even more. And also, anyone that doesn’t take the time to get to know you is missing out on something huge. You have one of the kindest hearts of anyone I know, and imagining missing out on that is not something I want to do.

  15. I’m all about re-purposing leftovers, especially when it comes out as beautiful as this!

  16. You’ll get no grief from me EVER with your smart ideas for leftovers. I love leftovers. They’re what keeps the weeks slightly sane. And this leftover redo is downright lovely.

  17. I hate throwing out food, so my fridge is full of leftovers. Like Sylvie, I am all about re-purposing leftovers. Love what you did with yours!

  18. Love the idea of making fishcakes using rice! They look delicious!

  19. Pershy says:

    I love leftovers. They’re what keeps the weeks slightly sane. And this leftover redo is downright lovely.

  20. Wonderful recipe – these fishcakes look delicious!

  21. These look so good! The sauce is right up my alley!

  22. I was just thinking of making something like this. Especially tonight, our family went out to eat (rare for us) and I had some fish tacos. The idea came together that I should try some kind of recipe like this. And here it is! Perfect timing! Thanks.

  23. One of my kids’ favorite dinners is rice cakes made with leftover rice, eggs, and shredded cheese. I never would have thought to put fish in there! I love the spicy mayo too. The whole thing is perfect!

  24. Those crab cakes are looking so good!

  25. I kinda think I am a pretty good cook and use some out of the “normal” box of ingredients but while I have “heard” of Sriracha, I have never used it and these sound AMAZING!!!!! Where would I even look for this in the grocery store?? i will plan fish for dinner just to make these “leftovers” YUM!!!!

  26. Wasted fish makes me cringe too. What a great way to make another meal like this one. Whats funny is that I love fish cakes, but never want to cook the fish first to make them. I guess next time I just need to make extra 🙂

    I hate to think what my sign would read. I am afraid people misjudge each other all too often. Your sign is cool enough for me. Have a great weekend!

  27. Good grief amighty, I am so in love with this recipe!

  28. Stacy Aguillera says:

    This is a wonderful recipe. I never was fond fishes, but my husband took the pain of baking a cake following your recipe, and it was very very delicious. I loved it so much.
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe.


  29. These look fabulous! I am nerdily very in to using up leftovers and adore sriracha, so these might be going into the rotation! Saw that you’re going to BlogHer Food Conference this year…it’s my first time, but I’m really looking forward to it!

  30. This looks amazing, Shaina. I love that you combined sriracha and lime for your mayo!

    I’m not sure what my sign would read…I misread people all the time…it stinks but that’s the way it works. As long as you’re fine with your sign, that’s all that matters.

  31. Oh, Shaina….these look incredible!!! All 3 of us love fish and I’m always looking for new ways to serve it! And the sauce?!? *sigh* Can’t wait to make this.

    I really loved this post…I think I get the “standoffish” sign when it truly just reads “shy.” FYI…I think your signs read “super cool, talented, a sweetheart.”

  32. These sound amazing! Especially that lime mayo! Holy delicious batman.

  33. This is such a great idea for leftover fish Shaina! And the lime sriracha mayo would be right up my alley! I love spice!

  34. Just wanted to let you know…that i think this recipe is aaaaamazing! the only way i can get my kids to eat fish, and they gobble it up! (my hubs and i like it too) Thank you!

    • I had leftover fish from last night which i needed to whip up something interesting with. Saw your recipe and I had all the ingredients on hand, so I tried it. and it turned out to be AMAZING….even my picky 2 year could not stop asking for more. Thank you so much!

      PS used leftover brown rice and it had an awesome nutty texture. the flavors were spot on.

  35. Vicki Warren says:

    I loved this recipe…the home made mayo was really a hit!!!


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