Fresh Off the Shelf

The latest catch for dinner could come from a can

It’s a food trend that has been hiding in plain sight on the grocery shelves. On the shelf just past the old standbys of Chicken of the Sea and Star-Kist tuna sits a plethora of seafood: sardines, mackerel, anchovies, mussels, lobster, crab, smoked trout, shrimp.

Tinned or canned fish has been there all along. Let’s see a show of hands of who has a tin lurking in the pantry.

Nutritionists recommend we eat two servings of fish a week and fish in a can is just as healthy as fresh and lasts a lot longer than fresh or frozen. Fish in whatever form is a source of lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids (better than the tablets you might be taking) as well as vitamin D, iodine, selenium and amino acids.

There are things to watch out for. Stay away from tinned fish preserved in BPA-lined cans and varieties with added salt. You also want to eat fish in moderation, both fresh and canned, because fish can be high in mercury. Some of the best choices the FDA recommends that are lower in mercury include anchovy, crab, clam, lobster, salmon, sardine, squid, shrimp and skipjack tuna.

I have a long history with sardines thanks to my dad and Sunday football. His snack of choice while watching the Chicago Bears on a Sunday afternoon would be King Oscar sardines and crackers. As a small child, I would pester him to share his bounty, which he did. It is a fond, tasty memory.

There is so much more to tinned fish than my sardine memories. Angela Lyle with Raven’s Café D’art at the Yellowstone Art Museum has several recipes that use anchovies (they really are quite good), octopus and mackerel.

For those who like to experiment, in your next tuna casserole, mash up a tin of sardines along with the tuna. Or try the sardine baguette bites.

Be a trend setter. Open that tin.


The Gilda

      ~Recipe from Angela Lyle

·     Green pepper in vinegar (guindilla peppers)

·     Anchovy in brine

·     Green olive

·     A generous splash of extra virgin olive oil

·     Round of bread

Take and skewer the peppers, anchovy and olives, generously splashing with olive oil and serving with round bread.

NOTE: The Gilda is one of the Basque country's most popular pintxos (appetizers). It was invented by Joaquin Arramburu, a frequent customer at a San Sebastian bar in 1946. Customers were given peppers, anchovies and olives with their wine. He started using the cocktail stick to skewer them all together and called it The Gilda after Rita Hayworth's movie role of that name. The name translates from Spanish to raunchy, vivacious and rather spicy.  


           ~Recipe from Angela Lyle

·     2 tins octopus

·     3 large potatoes, roasted or boiled and sliced and cold

·     1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

·     1 t. smoked paprika

·     Juice of 1 lemon

·     Pinch of hot paprika, optional

·     1/2 t. fresh ground black pepper

·     1/2 t. salt

Toss the cold potatoes with the olive oil, paprika, lemon juice, pepper and salt. Gently stir in the octopus. Adjust salt to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use. Arrange potato mixture on a serving platter and top with additional smoked paprika and chopped parsley or arugula for color. Serve cold as a salad. If you prefer a warm version, toss the potatoes while still hot. Briefly sauté the octopus in olive oil to warm and then top the potatoes with the warm octopus.


           ~Recipe from Angela Lyle

·     12 hard boiled eggs

·     3 T. minced roasted piquillo peppers

·     3 T. black or green olives, minced

·     2 T. capers, rinsed and minced

·     1/2 T. fresh chopped parsley

·     1/2 T. fresh chopped chives

·     1/3 c. mayonnaise

·     1 T Dijon mustard

·     1/4 t. smoked paprika

·     1/4 t. salt

·     1/4 t. white pepper

·     Extra smoked paprika or chives/parsley for garnish

·     2 Tins trout, mackerel, or other mild fish

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise. Scoop out the yolks and place in a medium bowl. Set aside the whites. Mash the yolks with a potato masher or fork until mostly smooth. Add the remaining ingredients. Mash and mix together until well combined. Use a tablespoon or small scoop to fill the egg white halves. Place on a serving platter and top each egg with some of the tinned fish. Garnish as desired.

NOTE: Deviled eggs originated in Rome where they were made with oils and wines and topped with spicy sauces. They were so popular that they had a phrase for it — Ab ova ad mala —meaning from eggs to apples, referring to the progression from start of the meal to the end with dessert. In the 13th century, a recipe appeared in a cookbook in the Andalusia region of southern Spain, made with a sauce called Murri, which is fermented fish, before mayo existed. Present day recipes use mayo and add tinned fish for a more traditional version. 


      ~Recipe from Angela Lyle

·     1/4 c. olive oil

·     4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

·     1/2 c. onion, minced

·     1/2 3.5 oz jar flat anchovy fillets in oil, drained (about 6 to 8 fillets)

·     2 T.  tomato paste

·     1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, crushed

·     1/2 t. sugar

·     1/4 t. salt

·     1/4 t. pepper

·     1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes

·     1/2 c. pitted kalamata olives, cut in half

·     2 T drained capers

·     Zest of 1/2 lemon

·     1 T. fresh chopped basil and 2T. fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Heat garlic, onions and anchovies on medium low until browned and anchovies are melting into the oil, about 4 or 5 minutes. Add the next six ingredients. Cook until tomatoes break down and sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in olives and capers. Heat through. Remove from heat and add lemon zest and fresh herbs. Serve over spaghetti noodles or other pasta.

NOTE: It was known as the prostitute sauce. During the war, women needed work and some worked the streets (not looked at quite the same in Italy as it was in the Americas). The women would open their doors for business and make this sauce. Story goes that the strong smell as it cooked would bring in the soldiers for dinner and a "dance."


·     8 slices of baguette (cut on slight angle into ¼ inch slices)

·     1 clove garlic, halved

·     ¼ c. mayonnaise

·     1 ½ t. Dijon mustard

·     ½ t. Worcestershire sauce, salt

·     2 3.5 oz cans of sardines in olive oil, drained with oil saved, set aside

·     ½ c. grated mozzarella cheese

 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Rub the bread slices with cut garlic cloves and drizzle with the reserved sardine olive oil. Place on the baking sheet and bake 5-8 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and turn on broiler.

Blend the mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire and salt. Mash the sardines and mix gently with the sauce. Spoon onto the crostini. Sprinkle with cheese. Broil until mixture is heated through and cheese melted.


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