Emirati Recipe: Fish Cakes (Sa-mak Koufta)

This post may contain affiliate links where, at no additional cost to you, I receive a small commission when products are purchased through those links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Any commisions earned helps keep this site sustainable. Click here for privacy policy.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about my Arabic/Emirati cooking attempts. The last recipe (lamb fried with spices / la-ham nashif) was posted back in September 2008. Almost 2 and a half years ago! Yes, I am such the delinquent.

Today’s recipe is an Arabic version of something I like very much – fish cakes! I fried these up back in September 2008 but never got around to posting. Not only am I a delinquent, it seems that I’m also quite good at procrastinating. Better late than never!

You can find the recipe here and about these fish cakes, Celia writes:

These savoury fish cakes are fried just long enough to become light and fluffy. The spices added give them sufficient flavour to be tasty and not too spicy.

A favourite during Ramadan, and on any afternoon visit, the cakes can be made in advance and kept in fridge for up to 24 hours, then fried.

I bought hammour (a local grouper) from Carrefour and using a meat cleaver, I chopped up the fish until it became a paste-like consistency (see top right in the photo below). In a large bowl, using my hands, I mixed the fish with parsley, onion, eggs, salt, vinegar, spices (turmeric, bezar, baking powder, cumin) and breadcrumbs.

Emirati Fish Cake Ingredients
Emirati Fish Cake Ingredients

To the fish mixture, I added chopped onions that were browned in oil and a garlic-loomi paste.  The instructions called for me to “crush the garlic and pound with loomi in a mortar and pestle until the paste is formed.” I wasn’t sure how a clove of garlic would become a paste and I almost gave up a few times, but I persevered and voila – garlic lemon paste!

Emirati Fish Cakes
Clockwise from upper left: onions browning in oil; garlic-loomi paste; fish cakes being fried; finished product

I formed the mixture into small patties, fried them in vegetable oil, and then drained them on paper towels.

The taste verdict? Well, my husband, who was hesitant to try them at first, really liked them and ate almost all of the fish cakes.  For me, I thought they were “just okay”. Being used to Chinese and Thai fish cakes, I think the taste of the bezar was a bit too overpowering for me.

I don’t know if I would make these fish cakes again but I certainly would like to give it a second chance with a few tweaks. Stay tuned.

*   *   *   *   *

Previous Emirati recipe: Meat Stew (La-Ham Murraq / Saloona)

Up next : Baked Fish (Sa-mak bil fern)

Note: This post is part of my Cooking Local project.

*   *   *   *   *

Subscribe to my monthly newsletter and receive a FREE noodle guide PDF:

I believe it’s not just noodles we are creating, but memories, traditions, and a sense of pride. Learn Noodle-Making With Kids. Create, Bond, Transform.

*We respect your privacy and will not send you spam. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    1. I am very much looking fwd to making machboos!

      I do try to avoid buying or eating hammour these days. Eating responsibly is getting harder and harder these days!