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These days, having a stocked pantry is key. And while boxed pasta, rice, chickpeas, and beans are ubiquitous staples, there’s one item that’s primed to become more than just an overlooked and oft-rejected kitchen feature: tinned fish.

Related Reading: Canned Tomatoes: A Comprehensive Guide to a Pantry Staple

Don’t believe us? Just check out sustainable fish advocate and cooking show host Bart van Olphen’s new book “The Tinned Fish Cookbook: Easy-to-Make Meals from Ocean to Plate,” which highlights the versatility of cooking with canned fish, showing us that tinned fish can be just as exciting as the fresh stuff. Seafood lovers will be able to work with a slew of canned fish—from mackerel to crab and anchovies—whose brininess and salt- and oil-packed oils prove to be the star of the show. 

The Tinned Fish Cookbook: Easy-to-Make Meals from Ocean to Plate—Sustainably Canned, 100% Delicious, $9.99 on Amazon

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Armed with Bart’s recipes, you can swirl a tin of anchovies into a caper- and olive-heavy pasta puttanesca. You can let salmon steal the show on top of pizza (anchovies who?), heavily swiped with pesto and crowned with hunks of mozzarella. Or you could give an eggy shakshuka an unexpected twist with smoked herring, which will wonderfully melt into the sauce.

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Although Bart’s book doesn’t officially come out until May, the e-book has been published early, just in time to help us home cooks harness the power of all those cans we have collecting dust in the pantry. If you’re like us, you probably have more canned tuna than anything else in there, so instead of making another tuna casserole, why not try Bart’s recipe for tuna noodle salad? The salad base is a simple mix of wakame, udon noodles, tuna, and scallions, then dressed with a traditionally Japanese vinaigrette, called wafu dressing, which is whisked with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, mirin, and oil. After one bite, you’d never guess that this dish is a riff on a classic American casserole. 

Recipe from The Tinned Fish Cookbook: Easy-to-Make Meals from Ocean to Plate—Sustainably Canned, 100% Delicious © Bart van Olphen 2019, 2020. Translation © The Experiment, 2020. Reprinted by permission of The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. 

Tuna Noodle Salad with Wafu Dressing Recipe

Wafu dressing is a traditional Japanese vinaigrette made with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, mirin, and oil, which will often have sesame oil and/or sesame seeds added to it. In this dish it goes amazingly well with the noodles and tuna.

Tuna Noodle Salad with Wafu Dressing

Serves: 2
  • Salad: ¼ cup (6 g) wakame
  • 7 ounces (200 g) udon noodles
  • 4 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • Two 6-ounce (160 g) tins of tuna in sunflower oil, drained
  • 1 scallion, white and light green parts, thinly sliced into rings
  • Wafu dressing: 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  1. To prepare the wakame: Put the wakame in a bowl with 2 cups (½ L) of boiling water and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Drain the seaweed in a colander for 5 minutes, cut into ¾-inch (2 cm) pieces, and leave to cool.
  2. Cook the noodles according to the package directions.
  3. Lightly toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan until golden. Set aside.
  4. To make the dressing: Whisk the sesame oil, canola oil, rice wine vinegar, mirin, and soy sauce in a bowl. Set aside.
  5. Drain the noodles in a colander, transfer to a bowl, and stir through the wakame and three quarters of the dressing. Divide the noodles between two bowls. Top each portion with tuna, sprinkle with the scallion and sesame seeds, and then drizzle with the rest of the dressing. Serve immediately.

Header image courtesy of "The Tinned Fish Cookbook."

Amy Schulman is an associate editor at Chowhound. She is decidedly pro-chocolate.
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