I love all canned fishBut how can I play them for lunch and dinner?
Chef and restaurateur Mitch Tonks, who launched their Rockfish range of canned seafood at the beginning of January, agrees that “canned fish is a good thing.” “We have the obligatory sardines and mackerel, as well as mussels and squid or cuttlefish in ink… I’m a bit fan of canned fish.” And he is not alone.
Jose Pizarro always has some sardines: “Get SardiniaThe little ones – they are the best.” The chef and restaurateur slice them up and use them along with hard-boiled eggs and capers to fill pancakes. “I can’t get enough of these pastries. It’s a recipe my mom taught me, though it uses canned tuna.” Instead, he puts his sardine tonks to work in a reuben-style sandwich: “Mix fresh cream and English mustard with a bit of Worcestershire sauce, and spread on rye bread. [buttered on the outside]put the sardines on top, add black pepper, red onion, pickled dill, capers, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese.” Put another slice of rye greased on the outside and fry until crispy.
You can also turn up the heat with some tam, says Tonks: “Grated carrots, zucchini and/or green papaya, cut red onions, cut cherry tomatoes in half, and put them all in a bowl with sliced fresh chili. Make the dressing by blending a crushed garlic clove. and palm sugar, fish sauce, and lemon juice, then mix it all together with the cilantro and mint. Fry some canned sardines and crumble them on top of them until they’re done.”
If Ben has any canned tuna, Tonks recommends sauteing it through crispy potatoes seasoned with nduja, While canned mackerel refers to shawarma: “Crush the cabbage, red onion, and green pepper, then grate some garlic into the yogurt and mix.” Spread that on flatbread with a little hummus, a little thyme, lemon juice, and mackerel, roll it all up and you’re done.
“Anchovies are a must too,” says Chef Angus Quinn, who along with partner Charlotte Dow founded East London Canning Co. during the lockdown. “They have umami that you can’t get from anything else.” While anchovies have myriad uses, you’ll be hard pressed to serve them better than simply putting them on toast with “as much butter as possible.” Instead, “race them with chopped rosemary and garlic to use as a base with BBQ chicken broth, whether it’s lamb or rabbit shoulder.”
Quinn is also a firm believer in canned mussels: “We cook and snack all year round.” The real winner around him—especially with his kids—is an orzo dish in which he cooks smoked bacon, then sweats shallots and garlic, plus a few fennel seeds, until tender. “Add a little apple juice, add some cooked pasta and a knob of butter, bring it all together, and you’ll get the mussels in at the end.” If you have some fancy mussels, don’t forget to add a little liquor too. Or, for a quick fix, use it as a toast. Tonx toss mussels (“we put them on the tin in escapche, which is a light vinegar marinade”) with red onions, capers, shredded little gems and a bit of olive oil and vinegar. Eat on sourdough and spread the joy.