Tuna meatballs, or should I say Tuna “fishballs”?




Did you know that almost all Italians are Catholic? Truth to be told, lately the numbers of the atheists has increased a lot, but still, Italians who are religious are Catholics.

Our religious tradition comes probably from the fact that Vatican’s territory is located in Italy, so Italians have grown up being taught just Catholicism. But, why am I talking about Religion?

Well, one very popular Catholic Tradition is the Fridays of “fasting and abstinence,” which includes not eating meat on Fridays, and in other words, choose sea food instead.  The most traditional foods that people usually cook to celebrate Friday, though, were (and are) Baccala (dry cod cooked in a special way), Sardine in Saor (Sardines salted), Anchovies Spaghetti,  and very cheap sea food in general, which, as you can image, was (and still are!) rarely liked by kids!

What my grandma and my mom used to prepare (and make their kids eat also) on Fridays were these meatballs (fishballs) which I’m talking about today. A tender and tasty mix made with canned tuna, cappers, anchovies, eggs, and bread crumbs, where every single ingredient melts with the others to give life to a yummy and attractive meal.

The recipe is pretty easy because it requires only to mix all the ingredients together, make balls an olive size, and brown them few minutes in oil, and there we go! I would say, 15 minutes in all.

INGREDIENTS for 5 servings (about 40 fishballs)

5 oz. tuna in oil – un scatoletta grande di tonno in olio di olive

7 0z. ricotta cheese – 200 gr. ricotta

4-5 anchovies – 4/5 acciughe

4-5 cappers – 4/5 capperi

2 eggs – due uova

5 oz. parmesan cheese – 50 gr. grana

about 1 cups breadcrumbs (better if homemade) – circa 170 gr. pan grattato.

5-8 tbs. vegetable oil to fry (I prefer always olive oil) – olio di oliva per friggere


In a bowl, put together tuna, ricotta, chopped anchovies, cappers, eggs, parmesan and breadcrumbs.

Mix all the ingredients very well, and form small balls the size of an olive (if for some reason you need to prepare the mix in advance, just keep it refrigerated until it’s time to make the balls).

Brown the balls in a very small amount of oil, letting the balls in the oil just for few minutes until brown on each side.

Already done? YEP! Now just enjoy!


TIPS: – About the quantities: usually to fill up an adult belly, consider that you will need at least 8-10 balls.

        –  If you have leftovers, these balls are even better the day after without the need to be reheated, this is why they could be the right meal for on-the-go, as an appetizer, for a picnic, or for a lunch box.

        –  If you are afraid that your kids won’t like the recipe because of the anchovies and the cappers, before you prepare the mix, blend the anchovies, the cappers, and a little bit of tuna, and then mix them with the rest of the ingredients. In this way there will be no trace of these items in the dough, but just their delicate aroma.

         – If you prefer to use “tuna in water” to make your dough, remember to add to the mix 2 tbs. of olive oil.

I really hope you like this recipe, and please, if you do, share it, like it, leave a comment, and support my blog!

Much thanks,



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