Tinned fish is a pantry must – especially when you’ve got the builders in. My entire flat is covered in a thick layer of dust. Before creating these recipes I spent five hours cleaning my kitchen, up to about head-height anyway. I wasn’t going to do all the top shelves and plate racks because tomorrow it’ll all be covered in dust again.
So it’s snacks, toast, sandwiches, pot noodles, one-dish bakes and takeaways on the menu. It’s all I can cope with. I’m trying to work through my pantry supplies, trying to reduce the amount of stuff I own generally. I have tons of plates, cups, gadgets. Let me stand up and say: my name is Kerstin and I’m a kitchenware addict. I could start a prop shop for stylists. I’ve embarked on collections of vintage enamelware, cut crystal bowls, blue and white china, Portuguese cabbage ware. Every week I go to Portobello and buy something. It’s ridiculous, this ceramic lust.
Back to food and specifically tinned fish. I invest in Spanish and Portuguese tinned fish. Sometimes supermarkets like Lidl will stock Ortiz tuna cheaply, so that’s worth looking out for. And you should always have a jar of anchovies in the store cupboard. Anchovies have a long history of providing an umami boost to food: the Romans used garum, a fermented anchovy sauce, to spice up their dishes; fish sauce is widely used in Thai and Malaysian food.
If you can, buy Cantabrian anchovies, which are firm, dense and clean tasting. People think they don’t like anchovies, but what they’ve experienced is poor anchovies or too many anchovies, say on a pizza. A small amount perks up a dish or a sauce, so my advice for those cooking for the haters is to hide them.
Anchovies have multiple uses. Throw a couple plus a chilli pepper into a cooked tomato sauce and you have puttanesca for your pasta. Mince one into olive oil, mustard, garlic, lemon juice and coddled egg, and you have a caesar salad dressing.
Other store cupboard tinned essentials include tuna and sardines, but you can also explore more exotic fare such as tinned swordfish, smoked mussels and clams for an impromptu spag vong.
- unsalted butter to smear the baking tin
- 1 clove garlic, cut in half and rubbed around your baking tin
- 2 large brown onions, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 kg which is the equivalent of 5 medium peeled potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
- 500 ml single cream
- 1 jar of salted anchovies or anchovies in oil OR, drained
- 125 g tin Swedish anchovies (sprats) to be authentic, available at Ocado and Swedish shops
- Fry the onions till soft. Peel and slice the potatoes.
- Prepare the baking tin with butter and garlic.
- Layer the baking tin with neat overlapping rows of potato rounds. Do four layers and in-between add some of the fried onions. Salt each layer slightly. After the second layer, add half of the anchovies.
- When finished, add 350ml of the cream.
- Cover with foil and bake at 180ºC for 30 minutes until a fork goes through the potatoes easily. Add the rest of the cream and on top place the anchovies in criss-cross style. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes.
Sardines on toast
- 120 g tin of sardines in olive oil, mashed
- 1/2 lemon
- 4 slices bread, toasted
- freshly ground black pepper
- sprig fresh mint leaves (optional)
- Mash the sardines, oil and lemon juice together in a bowl.
- Toast the bread both sides.
- Put a heaped tablespoon on each slice and garnish with pepper and lemon juice, and mint leaves if you wish.
Tuna salad sandwich
- 4 slices of the bread of your choice, spread with mayonnaise
- 160 g tin of tuna, packed in water but in oil is fine too
- 5 tbsps mayonnaise
- 1/2 small brown or red onion, thinly sliced
- 5 mini gherkins, thinly sliced
- 1/2 lemon, juice of
- plenty of pepper and a little salt.
- Prepare your bread slices
- Mix the tuna with the rest of the ingredients. Cover and chill if not using immediately.
- Add heaped tablespoons of the tuna salad into the centre of your bread slice, spread thickly, and close with the other slice of bread. Cut in half.
This dish looks so tempting! Sounds like a must-try! Thanks for sharing. 🙂