It’s amazing what you can do with a tin of fish. It’s also amazing what it can do to you; boasting heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and plenty of protein, tinned fish is certainly good for you. It’s also incredibly kind on your wallet, too. 

Right now, we could all do with some quick, delicious, healthy and thrifty dinner options from stuff lurking in the backs of our store cupboard, so without further ado, here are the best tinned crab, tuna, sardine, salmon and anchovy recipes.

CRAB FRIED RICE

This recipe is best suited for using up leftover rice (its dryness works well) but you can of course use fresh rice that’s been allowed to cool. What’s more, you can use a selection of what’s kicking about in your fridge, diced fairly finely. We particularly like courgette, carrot, cabbage, peas, sliced onion and sweetcorn to provide the body, with sliced spring onions and chillies added at the end. A cracking way to use leftover veg on the way out, we think.

Prepare a seasoning mix of soy and oyster sauce, white pepper and a pinch of sugar (just a little, oyster sauce is already pretty sweet), and taste to check the balance is right. Once you’re happy with the taste, set it aside for later. 

Next, it’s time to perfume some vegetable oil. Simply crush a skin-on clove or two of garlic under your palm, and add to a couple of tablespoons of cold oil in your wok. Bring up to a strong heat then remove the garlic before it browns. 

Turn up the heat so the oil’s super hot and crack an egg or two into the wok. Allow it to set slightly then mix it around with a spatula so it resembles scrambled eggs. Next, add your cooked rice and any vegetables to the wok and stir fry gently (you don’t want the grains to break down, rather to each be coated individually with oil) until the rice is heated through thoroughly. This could take up to ten minutes. Next, add the tinned crab and mix through the rice until well distributed and warmed. Now, add the pre-prepared seasoning sauce.

This is perhaps the best tinned crab recipe, so take off the hob and add a handful of coriander and spring onions and eat with enthusiasm.

THAI STYLE TUNA SALAD

Yes, you could make a simple salad nicoise with your tin of tuna, and we’d wolf it down happily. 

But we think today, and most days actually, calls for something invigorating and perky on the palate. Time to create this zingy tuna sala, Thai style, then. 

First, make the dressing. To a cold pan add equal quantities of freshly squeezed lime juice and fish sauce. Next, a quarter of the liquid mix of palm sugar (if you don’t have this ingredient replace it with caster or brown sugar). Then, add some thinly sliced garlic and some sliced Thai chillies; the amount depends on your heat tolerance. To really make this recipe sing, slice a thumb of ginger into matchsticks and add to the plan too. Finally, throw in a splash of water and gently heat until the mixture is warm (but don’t boil). Take off the hob and allow to cool while you prepare the salad.

For the salad you’ll need a can of tuna, some slices of white onion or half, finely sliced spring onions and finely sliced lemongrass, and some cherry tomatoes cut in half. Feel free to add any other crunchy vegetables which work well raw to mix, such a carrots or cucumber.

After that it’s simply an assembly job; add the dressing to a bowl of all the ingredients in the previous paragraph and give it a good mix. Finish with picked coriander and mint.

SARDINE SPAGHETTI 

A staple here at IDEAL Magazine, this sardine spaghetti is as good as any beefed up version.

Start with a soffrito; a mix of diced vegetables – the ‘holy trinity’ of white onion, carrot and celery is standard. Gently fry off your sofrito mix in a confident glug of olive oil until softened but not coloured. Grate a little garlic into the frying pan. After the sofrito mix has sweated sufficiently add a small spoonful of flour. Stir to coat the mix and cook off for a couple of minutes.

Next, add tinned sardines in tomato sauce to the sofrito, along with a touch of extra passata and a dash of chicken stock. Season with soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce, salt and a pinch of sugar, and simmer until it reaches a ragu like consistency (this should only take around 10 minutes) with the subtle sheen of fat that the best ones boast. 

Put your spaghetti in to boil for 7 minutes, and turn off your ragu, allowing it to cool in the pan.  When the pasta is done, pull it out of the boiling water with tongs and into the ragu pan; bringing a little of the pasta water into the ragu is welcome. Mix thoroughly and add a knob of butter for a little richness if you wish. top with parmesan and some parsley

SALMON FISH CAKES 

Tinned fish works wonderfully well for fishcakes, and this recipe couldn’t be simpler. What’s more, fish cakes are a great vehicle for using up leftover ingredients like potatoes and herbs on their way out. 

You can use whatever tinned fish you like, but we like to use salmon here, its oiliness working well to bind the fishcakes together. In fact, many believe the canned stuff works better than fresh in this instance. 

If you’re using yesterdays leftover roast potatoes, skip this step. Otherwise, bring some starchy, mashing spuds (like King Edwards, Maris Piper or Desiree) to the boil, starting from cold, salted water. Once they’re mashing consistency – test with the tip of a knife) then drain in a colander and allow them to steam dry a while. 

Pass the cool potatoes through a ricer, masher or mooli, and mix a knob with softened butter, the tinned salmon, some sliced spring onions, some salt, and plenty of cracked black pepper. Shape the mix into discs with floured hands, then fry in a mix of oil and foaming butter for around 4 minutes on either side, taking good care not to burn the fishcakes, but certainly taking them far enough to be crisp. 

Enjoy with siracha sauce and a simple side salad.

ANCHOVY OMELETTE

As simple as it gets, this, and also as delicious as it gets, in our humble opinion. 

Whisk a couple of eggs with a fork until homogenised, and season with plenty of freshly cracked black pepper, a grating of gruyere, parmesan or gouda, and some chopped herbs of your choice; parsley or coriander work particularly well. Forget the salt; the cheese and anchovies soon to come will be sufficient seasoning in that department.

Then, get some butter foaming in a non stick pan and add your omelette mix, moving the mixture around in the hot pan with a fork until it sets. If you, like us, enjoy your omelette runny, then simply add some slivers of tinned, drained anchovies to the middle of the setting mix, fold over, and serve. If you don’t like your omelette runny, then sorry, there’s nothing to see here.