Food + Wine

Avocado Fish Cakes w/ Pineapple Jalapeño Salsa over Rice ‘n Beans

So I’ve been making these avocado fish cakes since my oldest was a baby and I first started this blog.  I remember it being one of the first recipes I wrote that I was truly very proud of.  One that I was so excited in the conceptual stage and then super impressed with the taste results.  Back then we were on an extremely tight budget, living in a tiny apartment on one even tinier pay check, and I was forced to keep up our fun food habits and experienced palates that were developed out in LA… on pennies a day.  And after I realized I was actually pretty damn good at such a thing, this blog began.

That was just about 10 years ago.

And now our budget has expanded, my baby has grown and so has his sister.  We’re in a house instead of an apartment, and in many ways our lives have changed dramatically.  Except I still cook and recipe develop the same way I did all those years ago.  And this vintage recipe still stands up.

I’ve been making it throughout the years, my children ate them when they were babies in high chairs, and it’s really one of my favorites.  The whole family loves them, and when I made it again last night, it brought a smile to my face seeing them all love it again.

I’m using tilapia here, as that was the first fish I used all those years ago because it regularly goes on sale at my local market, is very successful when frozen, and is a light, mild fish.  But feel free to use other fish!  …Or crab, etc. (I’ve even used canned tuna before 😉 )  And there is avocado mixed in, making the cakes extremely tender.  There is no breading or filling, just some Greek yogurt and an egg to hold it together along with the avocado.  And they’re lightly coated in corn starch before pan-frying so they’re gluten free for those of you wheat free-ers!

They are so delicious and satisfying, but light and fresh and super healthy!  The pineapple – jalapeño salsa adds some brightness, sweetness and a little spice to the dish, and (brown) rice and (black) beans is just a solid bed to bring it all home.  It’s a fantastically healthy and all around great meal.

I hope you give these a try and make them a part of your family!



over RICE ‘n BEANS

makes 8-10 cakes, depending on size… whole meal serves 4

. f i s h   p o a c h i n g .

In a medium pot, add…

  • 1 lb. tilapia filets (this is generally 3-4 filets)
  • large handful cilantro leaves/stems (or just the stems of what you’ll be using in the cakes later… no waste!)
  • the juice of 2 small limes, or 1 large one, the juiced skins thrown in
  • big splash dry, white wine
  • handful salt

Cover with water and slowly bring it to a light bubble, then reduce to low.  Cook until the fish is opaque… only takes about 10 minutes.

Allow it to cool completely in the broth.

Remove and transfer to a mixing bowl.

Flake with a fork.

(This can be done the day before.)

. m a k i n g   t h e   c a k e s .

Preheat a large skillet (I prefer nonstick) to medium heat.

Have light olive oil / canola / or coconut oil on standby for cooking…

To the flaked fish in the bowl, add…

  • 1 large Hass avocado, mashed with a fork into the fish
  • the zest and juice of 1 large lime, or 2 small
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt (full fat, please… and you can always use mayo for a richer cake, but I prefer to not)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • large handful fresh cilantro, chopped
  • pinches kosher salt

Mix with the fork until fully combined, taste to check seasoning (fry a tiny bite-sized piece in a skillet, or cook in the microwave for a few seconds to kill off the raw egg if need be)

On a plate, pour a good layer of corn starch down and season liberally with kosher salt

Use a medium sized ice cream scoop and scoop out your cakes and place onto the seasoned corn starch.

Flatten with a fork and flip to coat the other side.  No need to be precise, just a light dusting is fine.

Oil your hot skillet with a light layer of the oil (use as much or as little as you’d like… I don’t know the size of your pan, but I prefer to go light on the oil, knowing I could add more if the pan becomes dry.)

You will work in 2 batches, most likely.

Carefully place each cake into the hot oil and cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown before carefully flipping with a fish spatula to cook the other side until golden brown.  Add more oil if the pan becomes dry on the flip.

Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

Repeat until all the cakes are golden brown.

Serve with the following salsa…

. p i n e a p p l e   j a l a p e ñ o   s a l s a .

(I’m using canned pineapple here, as it’s always in my pantry year round.  Feel free to substitute fresh when it’s in season.)

You will need about 3/4 of a (20 oz) can of pineapple chunks in pineapple juice OR the ‘tidbits’ if you can find them and don’t feel like chopping.  This is roughly 1 cup of pineapple, drained (always reserve the juice for something!**).

Cut the pineapple chunks into tiny pieces

Add to a mixing bowl along with…

  • about 1/4 of a red bell pepper, minced
  • same amount of red onion, minced
  • 1 red jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed if desired, and minced
  • large handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • the juice of 1 large lime, or 2 small ones
  • pinch kosher salt to taste
  • drizzle of honey or agave to taste

Mix until fully combined.

(**I made a margarita out of the reserved pineapple juice, as shown in the photo.  I just mixed equal parts reposado tequila, Cointreau, fresh lime juice and pineapple juice.)

. b r o w n   r i c e   &   b l a c k   b e a n s .

(almost too easy to share…)

Cook 1/2 cup brown rice in 2 cups chicken broth with a handful of cilantro stems and/or leaves 

Cook until done, according to package instructions (different rice varietals take different times, but generally it’s about 45 minutes for uncooked, dry brown rice)

Once the liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked to your liking, remove the cilantro and add 1 (15 oz) can plain black beans that you’ve drained and rinsed well.

Stir and adjust seasoning if necessary.

. p l a t i n g .

I like to make a bed of the rice and beans, place 2 cakes down and lots of salsa over top.  And I garnish with extra cilantro and sometimes a lime wedge.


For those wondering, that beautiful fabric I’m using in the photo is actually a cloth napkin from DII Amazon.  Here’s the exact product link.  I’m going to start linking to the textiles I use in my shots so you can go and grab them yourself!  And as always, if I miss anything or you have any questions whatsoever, please email or comment below 🙂

Thanks for reading, guys.  Enjoy this beautiful Sunday!  xo


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  • Reply Gail February 19, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Looks delicious– your photos just get better and better. I’m definitely going to try this soon. One question: I’m curious about why you use seasoned cornstarch instead of flour to coat the fish cakes.

    • Reply Everyday Champagne February 19, 2017 at 12:59 pm

      Hi, Gail! Thank you so much!! That really means a lot… and as for the cornstarch, I do like to make as many recipes gluten free as I can, as that is the number one request I get. I don’t avoid wheat, myself and I first wrote the recipe using flour and that, of course, works just as well. But I will say that I find cornstarch makes for a crispier and more golden brown fry when I make that swap. But, either one would be fine! xo

  • Reply Gail February 19, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    I loved the look and idea of this meal but was too impatient to wait for my avocado to ripen–and I had some leftover mashed potatoes–so I adapted this with cues from Melissa Clark’s NYTimes recipe for “Fish Cakes with Herbs and Chiles.” I used cod fillet instead of tilapia, panka crumbs instead of cornstarch, and served it with just black beans (simmered with a little minced garlic, Serrano pepper, lime zest, and olive oil) since the carbs were already in the fish cakes–and with your bright and zesty pineapple salsa. My word. This left my old crab cakes in the dust.

    • Reply Everyday Champagne February 20, 2017 at 12:00 pm

      AHH!!! THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY!!!! And that sounds amazing. Love potato/fish cakes! Cod is a fantastic fish for it too. Aww.. thank you so much for sharing this.

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