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Six O’Clock Solution: Fresh thinking for canned fish

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Tuna is well represented in the Tinned Fish Cookbook, including this recipe for Niçoise Salad.

Fresh fish and seafood make special meals, but so do canned versions, which are ultra-convenient since the contents are already cooked. Bart van Olphen, author of the Tinned Fish Cookbook (The Experiment/Canadian Manda Group, $24.95), is a Netherlands-born chef and Amsterdam fish marketer who handles only sustainable varieties. His book of more than 40 recipes is packed with useful information.

Unopened, canned fish can be kept, unrefrigerated, for up to four years (five years for sardines). Once opened and refrigerated, the product lasts up to three days. For a fast meal, you can heat a can in boiling water for two minutes, van Olphen writes, and then add colour, herbs, spices, some acidity (such as lemon) and whatever else you like. Canned tuna — represented by 13 recipes in the book — is his favourite, but salmon, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, herring and crab are also covered.

Niçoise Salad

Serves 2

Dressing:

2 tablespoons (30 mL) sherry vinegar

3 tablespoons (45 mL) Dijon mustard

Pinch salt

2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil

Salad:

1/2 cup (125 mL) baby potatoes

1/3 cup (75 mL) green beans, sliced

2 eggs

Leaves of 2 heads romaine lettuce

10 black olives, halved

6 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1 can (7 ounces / 200 g) albacore tuna in olive oil, drained (two smaller cans of tuna in olive oil may be substituted)

1/2 can (2 ounces / 45 to 56 g size) anchovies, drained

Freshly ground pepper

Dressing:

Combine the vinegar, mustard and salt in a small bowl. Beat with a fork to blend. Add oil in a trickle, beating until dressing blends. Set aside.

Salad:

Boil baby potatoes in a medium pot of salted water until tender to the fork, 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse in cold water and cool potatoes to lukewarm. Boil beans the same way until crisp-tender, about five minutes, then transfer to a bowl of cold water to halt cooking.

Place eggs in a saucepan of water, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for six minutes. Drain and run under cold water for two minutes. Peel and set aside.

Halve potatoes and place in salad bowl. Add some of the dressing and let stand so flavours blend. Then fold in beans.

Arrange lettuce on two deep serving plates and drizzle with some of the dressing. Scatter with the potatoes, beans, olives, tomatoes and onion.

Divide pieces of tuna and anchovies between plates. Cut eggs in half and set, yolks up, on salad. Add the remaining dressing and some pepper.

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