Crispy Sardine Fish Cakes with Escabeche Aioli

Crispy Sardine Cakes with Escabeche Aioli on a very nice plate - Donostia Foods


A tinned fish recipe for our times. Below you will find the directions necessary to transform our sardines in escabeche into what will quickly become the preeminent fishcakes of all the fish cakes (there seems to be no consensus on spelling as one word or two; this will do nothing to solve that issue). You will also dip anything and everything that is dippable into the escabeche aioli, until the tiny bowl is clean.   

Crispy Sardine Fish Cakes with Escabeche Aioli

Total Time: About 1 and 1/2 hours.

Servings: Six, three inch sardine cakes (from just one tin of sardines!). 


for the sardine cakes

  • 1 tin Donostia Foods Sardines in Vinegar (Sardinas en Escabeche)
  • 3/4 pounds russet potatoes (a couple medium size potatoes, or one large one, if that's your thing)
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallots
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • dash of kosher salt
  • li'l bit of olive oil for frying
  • chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon, if desired

for the escabeche aioli

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 small clove of garlic, grated
  • escabeche sauce from the tin of sardines in escabeche


1. Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Brush whole potatoes with a luxurious coating of olive oil, for they are about to be part of an appetizer fit for a king. Sprinkle with kosher salt and roast for 45-50 minutes. Let them cool as you move to the next step. 

2. Open the tin of sardines in escabeche and place the sardines in a medium size bowl while being sure to save as much of the escabeche in the tin as possible for the aioli. It's worth taking your time here to be diligent, and not let a drop go to waste. The reward later is immense.

3. While you wait for the potatoes to cool enough to handle, mix together the escabeche, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, and garlic for the simplest, most exquisite sauce fish cake have ever known.

4. When the potatoes are a non-finger burning temperature, cut them open and scoop out the insides, adding to the sardines waiting patiently in the medium size bowl. Have fun mashing the sardines and potatoes with a potato masher. Don't hold back. Mash. Stir in mayonnaise, one beaten egg, capers, lemon pepper, shallots and salt. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

5. Beat the second egg and put in a shallow dish. Place breadcrumbs in another dish (make sure to have plenty of dishes on hand for all of this). Form the sardine-potato mixture into two to three inch cakes, dip each cake in the egg, then coat with breadcrumbs. Place the formed sardine cakes onto a pan lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for another 10 minutes.

6. Heat a quarter of an inch of oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Fry for about 2 minutes per side or until mouth-watering golden brown.

7. Serve with the escabeche aioli to what will quickly become a jubilant gathering of human beings.


Crispy sardine cake with a dab of escabeche aioli atop - Donostia Foods


8. BONUS! Made a whole bunch of crispy sardine cakes because you expected more people at your party, but plans changed and weak excuses were made, but oh well, these things happen and you have some cakes left over? You're in luck. They remain sensational sardine cakes the next day, this time as sandwich patties on your favorite style of bun with lettuce, tomato, and if you're lucky, some of that escabeche aioli. 


For additional recipes and serving suggestions for Spanish conservas, please see our aptly named Recipes & Serving Suggestions page.