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Posted on Mar 5, 2007 in Bento, Fish or Seafood, For Kids, Freezing, Leftover Remake, Meat, Pasta or Noodles, Potatoes, Recipe, Tips, Tutorial or How-to | 19 comments

Leftover Remake: faux latkes with tuna

Leftover Remake: faux latkes with tuna


I finally got rid of the last of the leftover purple potato salad!!! Score. Today I’ve got a second way to get rid of leftover potato salad: turn them into little fake latkes with tuna and pan fry them. Giving your leftovers a makeover is a popular tip in Japanese bento cookbooks — it maximizes your payoff for the time you’ve already sunk into making dinner, but relieves the monotony of eating the same darn thing again.

Today’s lunch took five minutes to throw together, using leftovers and frozen homemade food. My son has a previously frozen faux latke (recipe below), a tiny apple, homemade baba ghanouj from dinner, and leftover shells and cheese (with sauteed zucchini/courgettes, cherry tomatoes, ham and kaiware garnish — heated in the microwave with a teaspoon of milk for texture).

Faux latke lunch for toddler お弁当

Faux Latkes with Tuna (Tuna Potato Cake?)

1/3 cup leftover potato salad
1/4 cup canned tuna fish (drained)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar (or other vinegar)
1 Tb cornstarch (or potato starch)
2 tsp chopped parsley (or other herb such as cilantro, green onions, etc.)

Mix everything together in a small bowl, chopping any chunks of potato that are too large. Divide the mixture into three parts, and shape each third into a small disc in the palm of your hand.
Prep for faux latkes with tuna #1 Prep for faux latkes with tuna #2

Heat a nonstick frying pan on medium heat, and lightly coat with vegetable oil. Pan fry until golden brown on both sides. I saw a Japanese variation of this recipe, using soy sauce for the balsamic vinegar, and aonori for the parsley (the two patties in the rear of the photo below are the Japanese version, the one in the front is the Western). Serve with a dipping sauce if desired (my two-year-old gives a big thumbs up to tartar sauce or tonkatsu sauce).

After frying, these can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen to have a fast protein/starch item on hand for lunches. When ready to eat, just pop in the microwave (or let them defrost naturally in the lunch or refrigerator). You can also make these with leftover potatoes, although you’ll want to add additional flavoring (salt/pepper, a splash of vinegar and olive oil or mayo — maybe your favorite salad dressing).

Faux latkes with tuna


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  1. Your use of color is so nice. What’s your tips to keeping a bento looking balanced? Why are bentos packed so tightly? I notice the use of cherry tomatoes wedged in places. I can’t read my japanese bento cookbooks, I just study the photos!
    Love your blog. The frozen onigiri was such a great tip.

  2. Hi Julie! Long answer short is that Japanese try to use five colors in a bento (ideally from the natural color of the food, not from food dyes or candies) to ensure nutritional balance as well as visual appeal.

    The bentos are packed tightly so that: 1) stuff doesn’t shift around when your husband turns the box on its side during his commute or your kids swing it around on the way to school, and 2) they can use the calorie rule of thumb (total capacity of the box in milliliters is roughly equal to calories when the box is packed in the standard manner — no candies or junk food, no empty spaces, and with 3 parts starch, 2 parts vegetables, and 1 part protein). So the box pictured above has a 350ml capacity — it should hold roughly a 350 calorie meal.

    Cherry tomatoes are used as “gap fillers” so that there’s no empty space showing in the box (and to stabilize the contents for transport).

  3. Oooh will definitely try to make this for work lunch :)


  4. =O That looks very tasty… :3 I’ve never tried mixing tuna in with potatoes… I will have to try that!

  5. oh my gosh. you made purple latkes. I think I love you.

  6. Hello! I am forever trying to find ways of taking a balanced lunch with me to work! All of these ideas sound great! I hope you don’t mind if I add you? Also, where would you recommend I find additional resources?


  7. Wow. Makes total sense…so opposite of the lunches I grew up on…smashed bologna sandwiches, and corn nuts. : )

    I froze my leftover spaghetti in little portions, and made more frozen onigiri! My goal is to pack a bento in 5 minutes! I want to freeze everything! Have you ever tried freezing tamagoyaki? I’ve tried and it gets a little funky.

    Again, thanks for the tips!

  8. My son devoured it and asked for more (good finger food), and it was spiced heavily enough that it tasted good to me at room temperature. Win win!

  9. My main Japanese book on freezing says that you can freeze usuyaki tamago (those thin sheets of scrambled egg that you can then either cut up thinly or wrap fried rice in). Says to wrap each sheet individually and freeze; or to cut up the sheet thinly, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then freeze. Haven’t tried it yet, but actually a number of my J-lang bento cookbooks recommend this.

  10. I absolutely don’t mind the adding — it’s very flattering. I’ll work on a list of links, but what specifically are you interested in? Brown bagging in general, bentos in particular, children’s lunches, etc.?

  11. Any of those, really, though I lack children. Perhaps I can learn something before I get one.

    Bentos have always looked 100% more appetizing than what I normally throw together, but I have little knowledge of japanese cooking techniques. Also, where do you find all the little sauce containers?

  12. Absolutely — I’m flattered.

  13. It’s like hummus, but with grilled/charred eggplant instead of chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans). Throw the peeled, drained eggplant, tahini (sesame paste), lemon juice, garlic paste, salt and a little water in a food processor and you’ve got baba ghanouj! We’ll often throw eggplant on the grill for this when we’re grilling something else — in this case, the lamb.

    We got the little apples from the good produce store I was telling you about on 22nd & Irving — Bug chose it out and everything! I should take you one of these days.

  14. Thank you for the good explanation. I thought that Baba Ghanouj was something sweet - good that I learned it now. The apple looks really cute, good choice Bug-kun!

  15. Not sure, mylunch — just whatever was in the bin at my favorite produce market.

  16. I just tried these out- yum! I didn’t have any cornstarch, so I used some flour instead, and I couldn’t find my balsamic vinegar, so I used the soy sauce. I thought they were quite tasty! Thanks for the recipe!

  17. @23 from Morgan: Glad to hear the tuna “latkes” worked out for you!

  18. I have a tupperware full of leftovers from a little southern-style dinner with BBQ roasted chicken, cornbread, and WAY too much potato salad. Thanks to your inspiration, I am going to work this into some psuedo-latkes. Thanks for being awesome!

  19. I am a college student new to the world of bento with a potentially dumb question.

    Why do you freeze everything? What is the benefit (besides longevity) as opposed to putting it in the fridge and then microwaving it?

    On a side note, I made these tonight and they were fantastic!