Spanish Tuna ‘Meatballs’

Recipes | Pan-Frying Serves 6 as an entrée Spanish Tuna ‘Meatballs’

Albondigas, meatballs, are a standard part of the Spanish tapas repertoire. These ones are made with Tuna, but don’t taste ‘fishy’ at all. They’re delicious and a great way to get some fish into the diet of kids or others who may not like the flavour of fish. They’re also a great way to use up Tuna offcuts as the food processor breaks up any sinew.


750g Tuna offcuts
1 red onion, finely chopped
½ cup fine fresh breadcrumbs (see notes)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons chopped oregano
1½ teaspoons salt flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Plain flour, for dusting
Olive oil, for shallow-frying
Crusty bread, for serving

Smoky Tomato Sauce
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
1 red onion, finely chopped
Salt flakes, to taste
½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika (see notes)
400g canned Italian tomatoes, chopped


Make Smoky Tomato Sauce: heat oil in a saucepan, add onion and salt, cover and cook, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes, until soft. Stir in paprika, then tomatoes, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, crushing often with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon.

Meanwhile, place Tuna in a food processor and process into a paste. Transfer to a bowl and thoroughly mix in onion, breadcrumbs, egg, oregano, salt and pepper. Scoop mixture into walnut-sized balls, dust in flour and flatten slightly.

Heat oil in a frying pan and fry balls for a few minutes each side until golden. Serve with Smoky Tomato Sauce and bread.


To make fresh breadcrumbs, pulse day-old bread in a food processor until finely crumbed. It’s a great way to use up stale bread and you can keep them in the freezer to use whenever breadcrumbs are required.

Smoked paprika is available from specialty food stores and adds a lovely earthy aroma; use mild smoked paprika and a pinch of cayenne, if hot smoked paprika is unavailable.

Alternative species:

Albacore, Blue Mackerel, Bonito, Spanish Mackerel.

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