Monday, 13 October 2014

Smoky sardines and tempting tuna

Of course every one knows that the very best way to eat a tin of sardines is to carry it to a deserted beach on an early Autumn morning. Spend the morning running round, skimming stones, playing chicken with the waves.

As lunchtime approaches, light a fire, open the lid slightly, empty out some of the oil, then soak some kitchen paper in the rest of the oil and stuff it in the top of the tin. Place the tin on a flat rock next to the fire and light the oily kitchen paper. Allow the sardines to get hot and smoky, then eat hungrily...

Granted, this is something that our present location makes more possible for us than it does for others, but even if you're not close to the sea, this is well worth remembering for those occasions when beach fires could be on the cards...

We made good use, then of the tinned sardines and mackerel fillets that were included in a box of goodies that arrived from John West a couple of weeks' ago. 

I guess perhaps we should have done something more adventurous (in a culinary sense) with them, but there's some salmon and tuna left for that - I'm thinking fishcakes - perhaps with some Asian spicing as suggested in the helpful recipe booklet that accompanied the goodies.

What I was more interested in in were the tins of John West Infusions - tuna lightly drizzled with flavoured oils - and the 'Steam Pots' - couscous with a tin of Infusions to stir in after the couscous has been plumped with boiling water - that I received. 

I'm not one for buying 'quick food fixes', tending to go for the raw ingredients and making it from scratch - and any food you might buy with the word 'Pot' in the title has me naturally eyebrow raising, due to associations (intended or otherwise) with MSG-laced noodle affairs, the kind of which you won't catch in my kitchen - no siree...

Tuna Infusions first - in a number of flavours, chilli & garlic, basil, soy & ginger, lemon & thyme, coriander & cumin. These are really really tasty - the tuna is meaty and succulent (although I usually buy tuna in spring water for calorie reasons, tuna in oil really is lush) and the flavours that infuse these pots of loveliness are tasty - not overpoweringly so but give the tuna genuine 'zing', and importantly for me, taste very natural. The Husband and I really enjoyed these, and surprisingly, so did the children. They've never really embraced tuna, but both of them gobbled down these infusions (basil for Pink, Chilli & Garlic - yes, really - for Blue) on top of a jacket potato and pronounced them delicious. Big hits then, and definitely something I'd consider buying again.

The steam pots are essentially pots of dried flavoured couscous plus a complimentary infusion pot. So, Tuna Infusions with Chilli and Garlic and Spicy Red Pepper Couscous, and Tuna infusions with Basil and Sun Dried Tomato Couscous. You get the idea. 

In terms of creating your lunch (or dinner, or whatever) you just add hot water to the couscous and leave to soak for 5 minutes, then stir in the tuna. And despite my misgivings, they are pretty good - and satisfying. I'm a fan of couscous anyway, although wouldn't normally add tuna to it, but the Tuna Infusions work very well in this context. My only gripe is that unlike the Infusion itself, there are far more ingredients creeping into the couscous. Things like potato starch, tomato powder - and quite a lot of sugar and salt. To be honest, I probably wouldn't buy these as a complete package - although I might well buy Tuna Infusions to eat with my own couscous in future - but they are a world away from the noodley horrors that sprang to mind when I saw the name Steam 'POT' - so don't let that put you off.

So there you go - tinned fish has just taken on a whole new dimension for me. And even if my favourite way to eat it is still on a wild, Welsh beach, I'll bet that a few Tuna Infusions start creeping into my cupboards...

Disclaimer: I received a box of various John West products in return for writing this post, but was not required to mention any specific products, and all views expressed are my own, honest opinions.

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