One of the best things about canned fish is that it significantly reduces cooking time. You can simply scoop it out, mix it with a few ingredients, and it’s ready to go. But taking an extra minute or five can elevate it to a satisfying complete meal instead of just a quick snack.
Here are a few of our favorite options for meals you can quickly whip up even after a tiring workday:
Fried Rice with Canned Tuna
If you have some leftover rice in your fridge, then an easy three-four ingredient fried rice is a no-brainer. The fish is ready, and the rice is prepared; all you need to do is combine it in a pan, let it heat through, and your dinner is served. It doesn’t get any easier than this.
Canned tuna, especially tuna canned in high-quality olive oil, is undoubtedly the best choice for this dish. The oil is already infused with tuna flavor and will give the dish a richer, more robust flavor. Just heat the contents of the can on the pan, wait for the oil to start bubbling, and add the leftover rice, mixing it with the tuna.
Fried rice is a versatile dish, so you can add any ingredients you like: chopped vegetables, eggs, spices, etc. But a bit of soy sauce, sake, and a garnish of chopped scallions on top is our choice of additions.
Garlic Toast with Canned Sardines
Garlic toast with canned sardines is a recipe that genuinely makes the star of the canned fish. It takes just three ingredients to make: a large piece of rye bread, a couple of garlic cloves, and your favorite canned sardines.
If you have the patience to wait for it, you can roast the garlic before using it. Roasting will make it easily spreadable and add a deep, smoky, complex flavor to the toast. But it’s not necessary. You can just crush the garlic over toasted bread as is. In fact, some people prefer it that way, claiming that the sharpness of the fresh garlic pairs better with canned sardines.
Once the toast is ready, pile up your canned sardines and season with lemon juice and a mix of chopped rosemary or parsley if you find some in your pantry.
If rye bread is not to your taste, you can swap it for a multi-grain or pumpernickel one. Just choose bread with a more robust flavor and a bit of sour ting instead of classic white toast.
Salade Niçoise with Canned Anchovies (or Tuna)
One of the most well-known contributions to the culinary world from the French city of Nice, Salade Niçoise is an overlooked darling in modern kitchens. Often regarded as a “dining out” meal, it’s ridiculously easy to prepare if you have tasty canned anchovies or canned tuna on hand.
Salade Niçoise is a simple combination of chopped tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, anchovies or tuna, olives, and a generous helping of extra virgin olive oil dressing. The part of the recipe that takes the longest is waiting for the eggs to boil.
The hardest part of the recipe is getting your hand on authentic Niçoise olives, but even restaurants may sometimes swap it for other black olive cultivars. Go with your favorites and enjoy the salad; who will judge you?
Fischbrötchen with Pickled Herring (or Any Fish You Have)
Fischbrötchen, also called Fischsemmel, is one of the most famous German sandwiches. It’s made with the queen of German seafood - pickled herring. It’s a simple sandwich made with soft white bread with a crunchy crust (most often Kaiser roll), a slice of pickled herring, white onions, and a sauce like horseradish, mustard, or ketchup.
But the great thing about Fischbrötchen is that it’s viewed as customizable. Pickled herring is the most common choice, not because the recipe is set in stone, but because it’s the most readily available option. You can easily swap it for mackerel, cod, pollock, or salmon. Pair it with pickled vegetables and ketchup. And it will still be German Fischbrötchen.
On the one hand, such versatility makes it the easiest recipe on the list. Basically, just stuff your favorite fish in a soft roll, add your favorite sauce, and enjoy! On the other, this is the one dish where the quality of the canned fish matters the most, as other ingredients won’t be covering up the sub-par flavor. Every component in Fischbrötchen exists to make the fish shine.
Quick Noodles with Canned Fatty Fish (Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, Sardines, etc.)
Any type of noodles will work for this dish. You can even use Japanese instant noodles - cook them according to the instructions, just without the soup seasoning. The flavor will be coming from the fish.
As with fried rice, you’ll need fish canned with high-quality olive oil. Heat the contents of the can on the pan, add a little bit of soy sauce and a generous helping of chili oil, if you like spicy food and are keeping a jar on your hands, and mix in the cooked noodles, gently tossing the dish in the pan, until the noodles are fully coated. Add chopped herbs for a splash of color and extra flavor, and enjoy.
Even if you use noodles that take a little longer to cook, the dish won’t take more than 15 minutes, and you’ll have a filling, tasty dinner ready in one go.
Cheese Dip with Canned Fish of Your Choice (Trout, Mackerel, or Herring)
Now, this is a bit more original, but trust us - it works! Cream cheese and salmon are, after all, a classic pairing. Why not experiment with other types of cheese and fish?
Use soft cheese with a more mellow, less salty flavor for the creamy base. Feta with a bit of sourness to it works excellently, but ricotta will do just as well if you prefer more neutral flavors. Crush the cheese with a bit of olive oil until it reaches thick cream consistency. Spread it in a bowl or on a plate like you would do with hummus, and lay chunks of your favorite canned fish on top. Adding a drizzle of chili oil and chopped parsley or basil on top adds more flavor and color to the dish.
This is a rare option where fish canned in water might work better than one canned in olive oil. Fish canned in water usually has a more mellow flavor, while olive oil ensures the flavor seals in and becomes more robust as time passes. Water-canned fish is less likely to overwhelm the cheese.
Mac and Cheese with Canned Tuna (or Mackerel)
Have some leftover pasta (or one that’ll cook in under 10 minutes)? Whip up this easy-baked mac-and-cheese. The addition of canned fatty fish like tuna or mackerel will add a robust flavor and up the satiety factor with all the extra-rich protein.
Mixing up the roux is the part of this recipe that requires the most effort. Combine 3 tbsp of melted butter with 2 tbsp of flour in a saucepan, let it bubble, slowly stir in 2 cups of milk, and let it cook for a few minutes, constantly stirring until the sauce thickens. Then mix 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese (or any other cheese with good melting qualities like Havarti or gruyere), and continue stirring until the cheese melts. Season with a generous amount of black pepper.
All in all, making the cheese sauce should take you around 7-10 minutes. This should be more than enough time for the pasta to cook.
Once the pasta is ready, combine it with chunks of canned fish in a (well-greased) baking dish. Pour the cheese sauce on top, sprinkle with MORE cheese on top, and bake for around 15 minutes, until the top of the bake turns dark gold.
Cream Cheese and Seafood Pâté Toast
And while we’re on the topic of cheese and seafood pairings, have you ever tried seafood pâté? Similar to classic French pâté made with poultry or pork, it’s a soft creamy spread with a surprisingly strong punch of flavor.
As with classic pâté, the seafood spread can be an unexpectedly versatile ingredient. It makes an excellent quick snack when spread atop buttery crackers to a more complex dish paired with more substantial ingredients like eggs or potatoes, or even an independent dish, acting as a dip served by itself.
But pairing it with a thick piece of crunchy bread and a generous helping of cream cheese works best. It’s a more novel twist on an old classic that renders a reliably flavorful and satisfying sandwich every time.
Scrambled Eggs with Canned Sardines or Anchovies
One of the reasons why keeping a can of sardines or anchovies (or other small fish) in the back of your fridge is the smart idea is that you can always toss it with other ingredients to make a quick and filling meal. Have no idea what to cook? Just grab your canned sardines and stick them on toast, or into noodles, or combine them with eggs.
Soft-scramble your eggs with a generous amount of butter and black pepper but little salt. The canned sardines will be responsible for adding saltiness. You can either put the scrambled eggs on top of the fish or just serve the fish on the side. Add a thick piece of bread to bring some carbs into this protein and fat-rich combo, and you’ve got a perfect hunger-crushing meal with a proper balance of all main macronutrients ready.
Classic or Flatbread Pesto Pizza with Canned Seafood
Flatbread pizza is one of those easy dishes that many often overlook for not being “the real pizza.” Indeed a shame because all it takes to make a perfect one is to find the flatbread base that tastes good to you. That’s the great secret: sauce and toppings matter the most for a pizza, but if you don’t like the base, you won’t like the dish either.
Premade pizza or flatbread dough works just fine, but I prefer using pita bread for no other reason than that pita is my favorite flatbread.
If using the dough, just roll it out at your preferred thickness (but not too thick, so that it won’t break), slather it with a generous amount of Genovese green basil pesto, lay canned seafood on top, and cover with a generous helping of shredded mozzarella.
Canned mussels, squid, and octopus create the most original version of the pizza, but simple canned tuna or salmon will work if you prefer more mellow, familiar flavors.
Classic Toast with Creamed Feta (or Ricotta) and Canned Salmon
That dip recipe from earlier? Why not turn it into a toast? The one upside of this recipe is that you won’t have to cream the cheese as carefully as you would need for the dip. It doesn’t need to be as smooth and glossy as long as you turn it into something spreadable. In fact, leaving a little texture to it may even work better.
Once the cheese is ready, simply spread it atop a thick piece of toasted bread and lay out chunks of canned salmon on top. Just like cream cheese and salmon bagel, only a little more subdued (which is easily rectifiable if you add a little squeeze of orange juice and a few chili flakes on top!)
Pasta with Canned Fish Ragu
Have a few vegetables that need to be utilized quickly less they spoil? Why not throw together a simple fish ragu? Chop the vegetables (the classic combination of onions, carrots, celery, and some pureed tomatoes). Fry the onions first, until soft and golden, then add carrots, celery, and pureed tomatoes after a few minutes. Season with crushed garlic, rosemary, and a thyme sprig if you have it.
Simmer the sauce for around 20 minutes, then add a can’s worth of drained fish (tuna or salmon work the best, but mackerel will work fine), and stir by breaking it into chunks with your spatula.
Let it simmer for additional 5 minutes and give it a taste. Season with salt and black pepper as you see fit. Serve the ragu atop the pasta (no need to stir it in).
Crackers with Hummus, Canned Fish, and Pickled Vegetables
Have neither will nor desire to cook? Whip up a quick antipasti board with crackers, canned fish, and pickled vegetables. Hummus works fantastically as a spread with this one, as it goes perfectly with each ingredient.
Explore Gourmet Canned Seafood Options at Yummy Bazaar:
Yummy Bazaar hosts an extensive yet carefully curated collection of gourmet-grade canned seafood at our online grocery store. Explore canned fish like tuna, salmon, anchovies, and sardines; authentic pickled herring, unfairly luxurious squid, mussels, octopus, and other seafood, along with unusual seafood pâté options. All it takes to get them delivered straight to your doorstep is stocking the cart with your favorites and trusting the Yummy Bazaar team to take care of it.