Three ways to turn canned fish into tasty new dishes



Most foodies who call the UAE at home are great connoisseurs of tuna, and I’m not even facetious.

One sight that amazes and thrills me often is watching 15-year-olds effortlessly order Maguro, Ahi, Toro and Otoro at fancy sushi restaurants – far from me, 15, who was busy trying to improve instant noodles with eggs. preparations and cheeses.

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At 30, I’d gladly swap a designer handbag for a plate of Otoro myself (OK, okay, better be a hearty plate). Home care measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic also aroused in me an appreciation for all canned goods.

I felt empowered and a bit like an apocalyptic preparer – delighted to be perfectly adept at cooking meals with canned beans, chickpeas and, of course, tuna.

The three benefits of canned tuna are that it’s inexpensive, has a long shelf life, and is absolutely delicious, especially with a few awesome flavor combinations using other staples.

The recipes listed here are impactful, easy to prepare, and even easier to carry in lunchboxes for picnics or from the kitchen to the couch. Best of all, they’ll leave you both smart and full.

Tuscan Tuna Sandwiches

For 3 people

An explosion of crisp, light Mediterranean flavors, these sandwiches are as much a pleasure to watch as they are to eat. They improve when seated, infusing the bread with the collective flavors of all the ingredients.


  • 260g tuna in water, drained
  • 1½ tablespoon red onion
  • 4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons of light mayonnaise + 2 tablespoons of pesto
  • ½ teaspoon of chili flakes
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of capers
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 ciabatta breads
  • Salted butter, spreadable
  • ½ cup of pesto
  • 1 cup of arugula, washed and dried in a salad spinner
  • 1 cucumber, halved and quartered lengthwise
  • 3 medium mozzarella balls, cut into rings
  • 12-15 sun-dried tomatoes
  • Sprinkle with smoked paprika


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1. With a fork, separate the tuna into small flakes, add the chopped red onion, Parmesan and the mayo-pesto combo and mix.

2. Add the chilli flakes, lemon juice and sea salt.

3. Sauté the capers in olive oil and add them to the tuna. Refrigerate.

4. Cut the buns in half and toast them lightly on a pan. Spread a thin layer of butter on the bread, then brush abundantly with pesto on both halves.

5. Add the arugula, then make a layer of cucumber and mozzarella slices, then place on the tuna in a thick layer and finish with a layer of sun-dried tomatoes and sprinkle with smoked paprika. Cover with the top of the bread.

Chef’s advice

If you don’t eat the sandwiches immediately, tie them in parchment paper and kitchen twine to keep them in place, then let them sit overnight in the fridge for the flavors to blend and become more delicious.

Tuna pasta salad

Treated with VSCO with f2 preset

For 2 people

Surprisingly easy to assemble and even easier to devour, the lightness of this version of a tuna pasta salad comes down to the inclusion of yogurt with mayonnaise. Together with the vegetables, this makes a wonderful summer lunch.


  • 185g canned tuna
  • 4 tablespoons light mayo + 1½ tablespoon Dijon mustard, mixed
  • 10-15 capers, chopped
  • ¼ cup celery, finely diced
  • ½ teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 160g conchiglie pasta, cooked according to the package, then drained and drizzled with olive oil
  • Sea salt + freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 green chilli, optional
  • 1 cup + 1 tbsp Greek yogurt + 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, mixed
  • tsp virgin olive oil, if needed
  • 1/3 cup spinach, withered in olive oil
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/3 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup spring onions
  • Sprinkle with smoked paprika


1. With a fork, separate the tuna into small flakes, add the mayo-mustard combo and mix. Add the capers, celery, a drizzle of lemon juice and the pasta. Mix, then season with salt, pepper and chili. Then add the yogurt-mustard combo. If the whole is too thick, dilute with virgin olive oil.

2. Add the wilted spinach and avocado. Add the tomatoes, as well as half of the spring onions. Taste and adjust the seasoning or lemon juice.

3. Stack on a serving plate, place any leftover cherry tomatoes, then garnish with spring onions. Sprinkle with paprika to taste.

Chef’s advice

This salad can stay in the refrigerator for up to three days. You can replace the conchiglie with any small paste, such as penne or fusilli. Whole wheat pasta works too. Complete the dish for a feast with boiled potatoes, grated cheddar cheese and jalapenos, and garnish with parsley.

Tuna pancakes with spices and pumpkin

Makes 12-14

It is impossible to eat alone one when a crispy patty is filled with tuna, pumpkin and tempered potatoes with spices and a whiff of fresh herbs.


  • 130g canned tuna, drained
  • 1½ cup mashed potatoes, plain
  • 1 tbsp red onion, optional
  • ½ cup roasted nutmeg pumpkin, mashed
  • ¼ cup spinach, withered in oil and chopped
  • ¼ tsp. toasted fennel seeds
  • ¼ tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • ½ inch ginger, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Squeeze lemon juice
  • 1 egg
  • frying oil
  • Breadcrumbs for coating mixed with 1 tablespoon of semolina
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp mint leaves, chopped


1. In a large bowl, using a fork, crumble the tuna well, add the mashed potato, red onion (if using) and pumpkin, and mix. Add the spinach, fennel seeds, garam masala, green chili, ginger and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then add the lemon zest and juice at will.

2. Whisk the egg, then add it in increments so that the mixture binds. It should be damp but not wet. Form 12-14 patties and let rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

3. In a large skillet, heat the oil to fry the patties. Prepare the breadcrumbs with the semolina, for a perfect crunch and color. Coat each patty and fry over medium heat until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve hot, with lemon wedges.

Chef’s advice

The patties can be frozen and then thawed in the refrigerator overnight. You can also replace the pumpkin with sweet potato. Patties pair well with dal and rice, in sandwiches or on their own with a tartar sauce.



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