Getting schooled on canned fish cuisine
Some gourmands might not agree, but there is a place for canned seafood in day-to-day cooking and Susan Sampson has demonstrated its worth.
“When I opened my mind to what could be done with canned tuna, salmon, lobster and all those other fish available in people’s pantries, I realize that most only equate these convenient products in sandwiches,” she says.
Her fascination with readyto-eat fish varieties has resulted in 200 Best Canned Fish & Seafood Recipes: For Salmon, Tuna, Shrimp, Crab, Lobster, Oysters and More (Robert Rose, $24.95, paperback).
Sampson, former food editor of the Toronto Star turned cookbook author, wrote 12,167 Kitchen and Cooking Secrets before embarking on this book. She did extensive research and haunted Canadian supermarkets and specialty food shops to find varieties of canned fish. She also ate a lot of fish dishes as she developed and tested all the recipes, most of which are classics along with her own creations.
“Fresh fish is wonderful, but if you don’t have the time or money it is also very expensive,” she says. “And after a day working you have to get dinner on the table fast, so it is just a matter of opening your kitchen cupboard and finding a can of old faithful there.”
She found canned tuna is the second most popular seafood in North America after shrimp. “I have recipes in the book for tuna salad, pizzas, dips and soups,” she says. “And I really got into clams, especially the meatier surf clams which look better and are substantial in chowders and on pizzas.”
Of Hungarian heritage, Sampson recalls growing up eating small fish like sardines, mackerel and herring. “All contain a lot of health pluses and I have used them not only on toast but in pastas and teamed with potatoes.”
Another bonus with canned fish, she says, is that they are interchangeable, so if a recipe in the book calls for salmon, for example, you can use another species. “Handle it gently and remember that it has already been cooked during the canning process.”
Canned fish shouldn’t be treated as second-class substitute, author says.