For many, consumption of tinned fish is limited to tuna, salmon and sardines. It is probably true that the majority of UK kitchens have two or three of these cans sitting ignored at the back of a cupboard. Tuna mixed with mayonnaise, salmon and vinegar, sardines straight from the can on toast, for a lot of people, that’s about it as far as it goes for tinned fish. But it doesn’t have to be this way! There are so many varieties of tinned fish and shellfish out there, and to suit all tastes and budgets. So many different flavour experiences and culinary traditions to draw upon.
Time and time again, after sampling the tinned fish recipes I am going to share with you on Food Daddy, my guests comment not only on the deliciousness of the food (natch) but on how it never occurred to them to use fish in this way. I’m not blowing my own trumpet (perhaps a little bit) but it is not my cooking skills that bring out the deliciousness in the food – these recipes are so easy that it is almost impossible to go wrong!
Tinned fish is healthy, economical and, most importantly of all, delicious. In addition, the recipes are easy and quick to prepare. Most can be put together in less than half an hour. And the recipe I am sharing today, my Smoked Oyster Dip, can be ready to eat in five minutes.
Smoked Oyster Dip
The benefits of eating oysters are practically unparalleled. These little beauties, bursting with umami deliciousness, are not only super-low in calories but come packed with a whole host of essential vitamins and minerals. They are high in protein, of course, and like their fellow fishy friends ooze with healthy omega-3 fatty acids; but they also provide impressive quantities of vitamins D and C, as well as zinc, copper and iron. Now, I’m not going to speculate on the possible aphrodisiacal qualities oysters may or may not have, but the importance of zinc to the male sex drive has been well proven. Oysters contain more zinc, pound for pound, than any other food. A word of caution, however, once you taste this dip the only thing you’re going to want to do next is have some more delicious dip!
The recipe couldn’t be much simpler, you’re going to mix together two ingredients and then flavour according to your taste. You like things spicy? Add spice. You like lemon? Zest and juice for you. You like cracked black pepper? [Ed. They get the picture…]
Smoked oysters are now readily available in the major supermarkets. The John West (85g) tins are the easiest to find but, as always, the choice is yours. As for cream cheese, choose a brand of your choice. In this recipe, I used unflavoured but if you like the addition of garlic and chives, etc. the choice is yours. As for the spices and flavourings, that really is up to you. If this is your first time making the dip, you can go with flavours you know you like (and already have in the store cupboard!). Experiment and have fun! I find the best flavours are often discovered by happy accident, trying this or that new ingredient or combination of flavours.
- 1 (85g) can of John West Smoked Oysters (or your choice)
- 1 (180g) tub of Philadelphia Original Soft Cheese (or your choice)
- 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped dill; or 1 teaspoon of dried dill
- 1 teaspoon of paprika (smoked if you like smoky flavours but remember the oysters are smoked)
- Cracked black pepper to taste
- Salt to taste
You cannot really go wrong here. Any combination of these will add delicious warmth and spiciness.
- A splash or two (or three) of Tabasco (smoked if you want to go all out on the smokiness!)
- Cayenne pepper
- Ground chipotle
- Anything you like! This dip is a great way to taste-test new hot sauces and flavours.
Consider adding a few capers to the mix. I don’t always do this but when I do, I omit adding extra salt.
I said this couldn’t be simpler, right? Empty the smoked oysters and cream cheese into a bowl along with all the flavourings you want to add. If you are going to use capers and want to keep them whole, wait until the last minute before gently stirring them through the mixture. With a large spoon, smash and combine all the ingredients until you have a ‘dip-like’ texture and consistency. Now, here’s the tricky part! You are going to have to taste the dip to see if you need to add additional flavourings. Be very careful, here, not to polish off the entire dip. You’re going to want to, the urge will be strong, but resist! Once the dip has been brought to the point you’re happy with, pop it into the refrigerator to chill.
I don’t need to tell you what to dip in your dip! Crackers, crudités, spread on toast – the choice is, of course, yours.