CULINARY THRILL SEEKING — What can you do with tinned fish?

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, August 12, 2020

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It’s telling that my daughter requests tinned eel for her Christmas stocking. Eyeing neatly stacked cans of smoked oysters in my pantry is reassuring. Sardines remind me of lunch with Grandma.

The Tinned Fish Cookbook reminds us we can do a lot more with that can of tuna. We have either evolved from potato chip-topped casseroles or reverted back to natural ingredients. Bart Van Olphen’s book is subtitled Easy-to-Make Meals from Ocean to Plate Sustainably Canned, 100% Delicious. Readers get lessons, history and photography of fleets headed out for catches that will make a traveler pine. Did you know sardines have been tinned for more than 200 years and were considered a treat for the wealthy?

If you are a culinary thrill seeker, each page will inspire. If you are a wary taster, this could read like a horror story, combining flavors that finicky eaters eschew. Listen to these titles: Cod Liver with Miso and Herring, Smoked Mackerel Lentil Salad and Quinoa Tabbouleh with Sardines. Maybe just start with Sardine Hummus or Tuna and Ricotta Pasta Salad.

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Peeling back the ring on a can of silvery, oily, spicy little sea creatures is adventure enough. That’s how easy it is to get to the main focus of a plate that could come to life with the vegetables, sauces and methods from around the world outlined in this book.

One easy starter here is Tuna and Caper Butter. A tin of drained tuna in olive oil is processed with minced shallot, butter, capers and salt and pepper to taste.

There. I feel like I’m at a café with an ocean view somewhere far, far away.



Inbru sounds like an edgy Icelandic chill band or a cool place to enjoy your coffee. I’m part right. Your own, comfy home is the place to savor 24 Inbru flavors to add to your own favorite coffee without adding calories, fat, carbs, gluten, etc. So how does my morning brew perfume the house with a Blueberry Muffin or Cookie Butter aroma?

Were you expecting me to say California Rice Hulls? Well I did and on my third flavor, Cinnamon Hazelnut, I’m predicting you’ll want some intensely flavored hulls that dissolve into your cup, too. It’s as easy as adding a scoop of Inbru Coffee Flavors to your own coffee grounds before you brew.

In my case, it’s added to my French Press before adding the hot water. And the scoop — that’s a funny story. I read the directions and thought they must have forgotten my scoop. It says it’s inside the little jar.

Sure enough, when I gently shook it, the hulls shifted to reveal a wee scoop that would hold a big pea or a little bean. Sooo cute. A jar will flavor 80 cups of coffee and help you, as they say in Inbru country, flavor your coffee, flavor your day.



Yogurt comes in a variety of thicknesses, so don’t think it’s all about that sugary stuff. Ayo is in the dairy-free yogurt business bringing us flavored creations fashioned from organic almonds. How cool is that? I’m not surprised by how good the blueberry, strawberry, peach and vanilla flavors are. I was happily surprised that the makers’ description of a “light, refreshing texture similar to traditional French yogurt,” translated into a silky, liquid texture. It’s a plant-based treat that feels like a rich indulgence. Ayo will play well with anyone’s culinary thrill seeking.


Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie socially distancing and still enjoying great company and flavors. Reach her at