Canned seafood gets five-star treatment

From left to right: Clam and Fontina pizza, Roquefort and red pepper baked oysters, and shiitake...

From left to right: Clam and Fontina pizza, Roquefort and red pepper baked oysters, and shiitake mushrooms stuffed with crab.

Rita DeMontis, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:32 AM ET

Ah, that can of tuna, crab, oysters, even mackerel that resides inside your pantry.

So humble, so underrated – and yet so ready to reveal itself as the basis for a five-star meal.

If anyone knows this it's Barbara-jo McIntosh, an award-winning food professional who has recently written the Tin Fish Gourmet – Gourmet Seafood from Cupboard to Table (Arsenal Pulp Press).

This former proprietor of Barbara-jo’s, a popular Vancouver eatery, and now owner of Barbara-jo’s Books to Cooks cookbook Store in Vancouver (where she has hosted dinners and demonstrations with Michelin-starred chefs from around the globe), revisits the title after the success of the first edition of Tin Fish Gourmet, published back in 1998.

This “new and improved” book features gorgeous full-colour photographs that you just want to gobble up, plus brand new recipes that utilize whatever canned fish you may have lying around.

McIntosh shares more than 85 delicious, innovative recipes for entrees, sides, salads, and appetizers that feature canned seafood as their main ingredient. Barbara-jo’s recipes are accessible and flavourful, and transform tinned salmon, tuna, clams, oysters, shrimp, crab, sardines, and mackerel into delicious dishes perfect for home dining and entertaining.

Tin Fish Gourmet includes sophisticated versions of classic comfort food dishes such as clam chowder, New England salmon cakes, and a delicious twist on the traditional tuna melt.

With an ocean of options for quick and delicious meals, Tin Fish Gourmet is a sea-worthy companion for every fish-loving home cook and foodie. Look for it at a bookstore near you, or check for it online, including bookstocooks.com.

Here's a selection guaranteed to give that humble little can of fish the five-star treatment.

Roquefort and Red Pepper Baked Oysters

The neat thing about this recipe is you can make up the Roquefort mixture ahead of time and keep it in the freezer.

Ingredients:

  • 1 5-oz. (142g) tin oysters, drained
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped red bell peppers
  • 4 oz. (125g) Roquefort cheese
  • 4 oz. (125g) butter
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) bread crumbs
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Divide oysters among 4 small ovenproof dishes such as coquille shells, or a real oyster shell that has been cleaned.

In a food processor, combine red peppers, cheese, butter and garlic. Spoon mixture onto a piece of wax paper and roll into a cylinder about 2-inches (5 cm) wide.

For each dish, cut a 1/2-inch (1-cm) piece of butter and place on each oyster. (Rest of mixture can be wrapped and frozen for other uses).

Combine parsley and bread crumbs and sprinkle over each dish. Grind black pepper over top and place under broiler for 3 to 5 minutes, until browned and bubbly.

Serves 4 as an appetizer.

Shiitake Mushrooms Stuffed with Crab

Sometimes one specific ingredient makes an entire dish. In this case, adjusting the amount of wasabi mustard to your taste raises the recipe well above the ordinary.

Ingredients:

  • 16-18 shiitake mushrooms, about 2-inches (5 cm), stems removed
  • 2 tsp. (10 ml) butter
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) mirin (rice vinegar)
  • 3/4 cup (175 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) wasabi mustard, or to taste
  • 1 4-oz. (113g) tin crabmeat, drained
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) grated Parmesan cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Finely chop 2 mushrooms caps and set aside.

In a medium saucepan on medium heat, melt butter. Add green onions and chopped mushroom caps and saute for 1-2 minutes, until softened. Add mirin, reduce for a few seconds, then add heavy cream. Reduce until cream reaches a thick consistency.

Remove from heat and fold in wasabi mustard, crab meat and breadcrumbs. Taste and add more mustard if desired, and mix to combine well.

Preheat oven to broil. Divide mixture between mushroom caps, about 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) per cap. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over mushrooms and season with pepper. Place under broiler for 3-4 minutes, until browned and bubbly – be careful not to burn.

Makes 4 appetizer servings.

Clam and Fontina Pizza

The aroma of this dish as it bakes in the oven is a wonderful preamble to how it actually tastes. A favourite recipe for pizza dough adds to the fun, but if you're short on time, try ready-made dough.

Ingredients:

  • Pizza dough for 1 pizza
  • Cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) pesto sauce
  • 1 5-oz. (142g) tin baby clams, drained
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) toasted pine nuts
  • 1 cup (250 ml) grated Fontina cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425F (220C). Sprinkle about 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) of cornmeal on prepared pizza pan. Spread dough on pan. Spread tomato sauce over dough, then spoon pesto sauce on top. Sprinkle with clams, pine nuts and Fontina cheese evenly over pizza.

Bake in oven 12-15 minutes or until edges of crust are nicely browned and cheese evenly melted.

Makes 2-3 servings.

 


Videos

Photos