Fried Bean Cakes

Refried beans appear in most tropical and semitropical countries where legumes are common cash and food crops. I am amused by a California chef’s claim that he invented the bean cake, when old recipes are legion in the South.

The following recipe is from Richard Perry, who worked in Charleston as a chef for many years.


  • 3 cups cooked and drained (leftover) beans or black-eyed peas
  • 1 large egg or 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 small red onion, diced (about ½ cup)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, very finely minced
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • ½ roasted, peeled, and seeded jalapeno pepper, finely minced
  • unbleached (all-purpose) flour
  • vegetable oil or clarified butter for panfrying


Mix together all of the ingredients except the flour and oil, mashing the beans with a fork or by hand. Form into patties, coat with flour, and fry over medium-high heat in a small amount of oil or clarified butter until browned, about 1½ to 2 minutes on each side.

I prefer to serve these cakes with roasted red pepper puree or a sun-dried tomato mayonnaise. Richard notes that you may add shrimp, country sausage (cooked, drained, and crumbled), bacon, diced meat, or vegetables to the mixture to add flavor and texture.