How to cook with canned fish, a luxury ingredient even on a small budget – News-Herald

Traveling, wrote Francis Bacon, the sixteenth-century essayist, is a form of education. “Those who travel to a country, before a certain entry into the language,” he writes, “go to school.”

If you eat in Spain and Portugal while traveling in Europe, you and your kitchen will learn a lot more about eating canned fish than its place in the tuna salad sandwich. ‘Conservas’, as the Spanish and Portuguese languages ​​call them, show up on so many tables and in so many ways – as centerpieces at lunchtime, on evening snack platters, even in dinner preparations. eggs for breakfast.

So, in a way, travel this summer to the Iberian Peninsula, even if you may not cross our own shores, taking advantage of the enormous variety of canned fish available in the United States.

Peel a can of tuna canned in olive oil and use chunks to top envelope-sized corn tortillas dabbed with mustard curd soup and a tangy pickle.

Toss in cottage cheese a can of smoked trout or pickled cockles or clams and make the mixture the inside layer of a sandwich using slices of hearty, elastic rye bread or sourdough bread, lightly toasted.

Canned Spanish and Portuguese mussels are usually preserved in the tangy, vinegary sauce called escabeche. Drain a can (but not completely) and mix mussels like the Iberians do, with pasta, chopped garlic, lemon zest and finely chopped mint or basil.

The Spaniards make canned anchovies preserved in olive oil a kind of open sandwich: thin slices of black bread topped with an anchovy and a hint of marmalade (made with Seville orange of course ), the tangy jam offsetting the spiciness, salty fish.

If your summer grilling is in progress, place canned squid on the grill, lightly grill them on all sides, then add them to an already prepared rice salad or even a risotto made with fish stock. fish and short-grain rice (use paella rice called bomba), with large graters of strong Spanish cheese like manchego curado.

Brunch: vegetables (cabbage ribbons, carrot sticks, diced potatoes, strips of red or yellow pepper, onion rings, mushroom caps) in escabèche, canned fish (mackerel for example), semolina bread lightly toasted and buttered.

Prepare a potato salad with waxy Yukon Gold potatoes (dressed with lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, crushed Provence herbs, fresh sliced ​​garlic), then add a can of can drained pieces of octopus (cut if large). Mix and let sit for half an hour to blend the flavors. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Vary the canned tuna (always use such confit in olive oil, never water) on a Niçoise salad: use canned salmon or canned smoked trout. Or go for the best canned tuna possible, like the one labeled “bonito del Norte” from Iberia.

In the bowl of a food processor, make a very smooth-textured “hummus” from a 6-ounce block of feta cheese and a tablespoon of fruity extra-virgin olive oil. Scrape it onto a plate and garnish with the canned fish of your choice (drained, if necessary), strips of pimiento pepper (or other pickled or canned pepper), chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves and a pinch of dried Urfa or Aleppo pepper flakes. As an accompaniment: the best crackers or galettes.

A very good side benefit to using canned fish is that it generally uses underfished seafood versus overfished seafood. It is unfortunate that the most common overfished fish, tuna, is also the most commonly available canned fish. If you buy canned tuna, try to get it from rod and line tuna fishermen rather than longline ones. Examine the box label for the words “pole and (or &) line”.

Additionally, because canned fish is available year-round, outside of seasonal fishing times in either hemisphere, buying and eating canned fish rather than freshly caught fish helps fish stocks to replenish in their original oceans or seas.

I’ve made this canned tuna sauce for many springs and summers, to serve over any sort of sliced ​​meat prepared or previously cooked and then chilled: deli meats, roasted pork loin, chicken fillets or piccata fillets, schnitzel white meat, even more fish. like cooled grilled swordfish or salmon fillet.

It is the sauce of the famous Italian preparation of fresh veal called vitello tonnato. But few of us still cook veal. A legion of baby beef substitutes awaits.

Canned tuna sauce

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.


1 can (5-7 ounces) pole-caught tuna in olive oil, drained 5 anchovy fillets in olive oil 1 tbsp capers, preferably packed in salt, rinsed and pressed 2 tbsp tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice1 cup mayonnaise, homemade if possible. Freshly ground white pepper, to taste (optional)


Place all ingredients except the mayonnaise in the bowl of a food processor and blend until very smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.

Scrape the contents of the processing bowl into a larger bowl and gently but carefully stir in the mayonnaise and optional black pepper. Check the salt seasoning level. (Additional salt may be unnecessary as canned fish and capers, the latter although rinsed, may add enough salt.)