|Canned seafood makes for easy meals.|
There’s way more than canned tuna. Here’s what I’ve got in my pantry: bonito (white tuna or albacore), melva (frigate mackerel), caballa (mackerel), sardines and sardinillas (small sardines), anchovies, mussels, clams, cockles, scallops, octopus, squid.
Spain has long been a market leader in fish conserves. Way back in Roman days, Spanish garum, a powerfully smelling, fermented fish paste flavored with herbs and packed in brine, was much appreciated in Rome. Today tuna--albacore, skipjack and yellowfin-- represent more than 55 percent of Spain's canned fish production. Sardines are second, followed by mussels, mackerel and anchovies.
|Mackerel fillets in escabeche.|
Escabeche fish, with a piquant blend of oil, vinegar and pimentón (paprika) makes a ready-made dressing. All that's needed is a good squeeze of lemon.
|Canned fish in escabeche--readymade dressing.|
Canned sardines, whose bones are soft enough to chew, are an exceptionally rich source of calcium. The finest sardines are those packed in olive oil, but they also come in tomato sauce, in escabeche and picante, seasoned with chile. Sardines make a great topping for pizza. I make a sardine “pâté” to spread on toasts. Combine drained sardines, chopped onion, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, dry Sherry, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper in a mini food processor. Serve on toasts garnished with sliced hard-boiled eggs and thinly sliced peeled cucumber.
I think of anchovies (in a tin, they’re called anchoas; they’re boquerones if they're fresh ones) as a sort of spice. A dash of them adds pizazz to many different foods. Chop some into boiled potatoes or mash with cream cheese to make a topping for baked potatoes. Stir into butter with lemon and capers and pour over veal cutlets.
|Squid in ink sauce, great for pasta.|
Squid (calamares, pota or chipirones), cuttlefish (jibia, chopitos) and octopus (pulpo) all make fine additions to pasta sauces and, in a pinch, can be substituted for fresh squid in paella or seafood stews. Tinned ones are very tender. Today I’m using squid canned in ink sauce to make a topping for linguine. The meal is ready in less than 30 minutes! (See the recipe below.)
|Linguine with squid in ink sauce, quick and easy.|
Clams (almejas), cockles (berberechos), razor-shells (navajas), wedge-shells (machas), sea-urchins (erizos) and crab (cangrejo) are other shellfish in cans to be found in Spanish shops.
Imported Spanish canned tuna, sardines and shellfish can be found in many big supermarkets in the US or from La Tienda, The Spanish Table, or De España.
Linguine With Squid Sauce
Serves 3 or 4.
4 (80-gram) cans squid in ink (en su tinta)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 slices bacon, chopped
½ onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red or green bell pepper, chopped
Pinch of fennel seeds
1/3 cup white wine
Red pepper flakes
½ pound linguine or spaghetti
Chopped parsley to garnish.
Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the bacon, onion, garlic and bell pepper for 5 minutes. Add the fennel seeds, wine and red pepper flakes and simmer the sauce for 5 minutes. Add the contents of the cans, cutting up the pieces if necessary, and simmer another 3 minutes. Add a little water if sauce is too thick.
Meanwhile, cook the linguine or spaghetti in ample boiling, salted water. Drain the pasta. Serve it topped with a spoonful of the squid sauce and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.