Light and Chewy Hanpen Fritters

Light and Chewy Hanpen Fritters

This is yummy! These little hanpen fish cake fritters have a nice light and chewy texture whether they're pan-fried or deep fried, and even when they're cold. They're great as drinking appetizers, in bentos, or with ankake sticky sauce (see step 7) to serve to guests.

Ingredients: 2 servings

1 (large, 120 g)
Canned tuna
1 can (80g)
Green shiso leaves
4 to 5
Bonito flakes
1 small packet (3 g)
2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons
1/2 tablespoon
Sesame oil
to taste


1. Wash the shiso leaves quickly, pat dry and shred. Drain the canned tuna very well Don't throw out the liquid from the can, since it will be used later.
2. Julienne the hanpen finely, and grind to a paste in a mortar. Gradually addd 1 tablespoon of the tuna oil to form a smooth paste. A food processor makes this step much easier.
3. Dissolve the shiratama flour in water or use the tuna can liquid if you still have some.
4. Add the mixture from step 3 to the ground-up hanpen from step 2, then add mayonnaise. When it's smooth, add tuna → shiso leaves → bonito flakes in that order. The fritter mixture is done.
5. Make the fritters: Heat a little sesame oil in a pan. Form the mixture into small oval shaped patties (like mini-burgers) and pan-fry both sides until golden brown.
6. Arrange on a plate and serve. Eat with any sauce of your choice, such as soy sauce, ponzu sauce and so on.
7. To make deep fried balls: Form bite-sized balls with the mixture, deep fry and then coat with ankake sticky sauce. To make the sauce: for every 1 cup (200 ml) of dashi stock, use 1 tablespoon each of sake, soy sauce and mirin + a little grated ginger juice, and thicken with a little katakuriko dissolved in water to taste.
8. A small variation: Add corn kernels to the mixture. This is sweet and delicious.
9. Add corn kernels at step 4. You can then pan fry or deep fry the mixture. Adding sesame seeds is delicious too.
10. Variation 2: Use mayonnaise instead of miso, add 1 tablespoon of sakura shrimp (tiny dried shrimp) and deep fry. The mixture is very loose and hard to handle, but that makes them more light and chewy. These have a stronger flavor, so you can eat then without any sauce.
11. I used rather small and tender sakura shrimp for the variation in step 10.
12. Extra: This is the hanpen (left) and canned tuna (right) I used. I used a non-oil canned tuna, but you could use another type if you like.
13. Added note: I used this reduced calorie mayonnaise. If you use tuna canned in oil rather than water, and full fat mayonnaise instead of reduced fat, the mixture may be hard to handle because of the added fat. (See Hints)

Story Behind this Recipe

I don't use large hanpen fish cakes that much because they're expensive. I had some though, and before I realized it, they were 2 days past their best-by date. But they weren't past their expiration date, so I thought, "Maybe it'll be ok if I heat it through?" As it happened, I wanted to eat something "chijimi-like" (Korean savory pancake), so I did some research. Of course the expiring hanpen was just my inspiration. Please make this with hanpen that's well before its best-by date.