Photographer - Hannah Hall
As canned fish increases its popularity in the UK it’s no longer seen as the poor alternative to fresh fish. With some people now even serving it up at dinner parties, we asked wine buyer and owner of Ruby & Claret bottle shop bar and tasting room what vino she’d pair with the oceanic charcuterie - canned tuna.
For nearly two centuries, tinned seafood (or canned, depending on where you’re from) has been viewed as a delicacy in Southern Europe.
Image courtesy of Consorcio
In Britain, tinned tuna is seen much more as a quick and easy supper option as opposed to something you might serve at a dinner party. But as us Brits adopt more of the European ways with cuisine, we thought we’d pimp up the humble tuna with a seasoned chef and wine expert! We asked Chris Macarthur, chef of 40 years and lover of Spanish food, to serve up three tapas style dishes we might not associate with a tin of tuna. And wine connoisseur Clare Deer, graciously paired three tasty tipples that we’re sure even the most discerning foodies amongst you will approve of.
Photo by Hannah Hall
1) Lemon and olive oil marinated tuna
Gundillas, white onion, green olive.
This is presented on a toasted sourdough slice. If you’re feeling racy add a cheeky anchovy!
The seafood products in Spain are so good you don’t need to do a lot to them, just marry them up and get the right combinations. This simple bite is normally presented on a skewer but the addition of the sourdough gives both another texture and flavour.
Photo by Hannah HalI
Clare - Wine expert - I'm pairing this dish with Akemi White Rioja. This wine was created for an award winning chef, Felix Jimenez. Felix is a Spanish chef who creates Japanese fusion dishes from Riojan ingredients (his restaurant is Kiro Sushi in Logroño, a town at the heart of the Rioja region). Akemi is made with the Viura grape (Tempranillo is the most well known grape in Rioja DOCa, Viura is the most grown white grape in this region and is part of the majority of white Rioja blends).
The wine has a soft texture and feels quite fleshy. Delicate floral aromas with a hint of white pepper. It tastes tropical with a little kiss of vanilla. Akemi was made to go with fish dishes, the Gundillas are pickled and hot and the olives and sourdough are rich and savoury. The Akemi softness helps balance those strong flavours, the moderate acidity of the wine will cleanse the palate and the light tropical and vanilla flavours will complement the dish without overwhelming the senses.
2) Padron pepper, Russian Salad with Potato, Saffron, Shredded Kale, Mayonnaise
The peppers are charred and stuffed with the salad and presented in a small tapas dish – picked up with a small skewer, or small fork. The combination of raw and crunchy vegetables compliments the meaty texture of this fantastic tuna when eaten together - the kale adds slight acidity to the oily and rich flesh of the fish.
Photo by Hannah Hall
For this dish, I have chosen Adras Lluvia Bianco. An organic wine from the Spanish region of Almansa (part of the Castilla-La Mancha wine region). It's a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Verdejo, which makes for a crowd pleasing fresh and zingy sip! With flavours citrusy lemon zest, tropical pineapple and kiwi. It pairs brilliantly with both seafood and veggie dishes. It is soooo fabulous with this fishy Russian salad with lots of crunch. The refreshing acidity of the wine will cut through the creamy mayo, keeping the palate refreshed and eager for the next bite!
3) Flaked Tuna Tortilla with pickled Piquillo Peppers and Parsley Oil
The tuna and peppers are served on the cut tortilla – presented on a small tile – eaten with a small fork. Potatoes and onion are combined with free range eggs and parsley is combined with olive oil and peppers finish this timeless dish.
Now you’re in for a treat, as this final wine is my favourite. Laureatus Albariño from the Rias Baixas region of Spain. The Rias Baixas is in Galicia on the Atlantic coast and it often referred to as 'Green Spain' due to its rugged, lush landscape. The area produces a huge amount of shellfish and the region's wine styles pair well with fish dishes, especially Albariño. The Laureatus Albariño is particularly delicious and complex with flavours of citrusy tangerine, ripe pear, green apples, tropical pineapple and herbs. The dish is both rich and fresh, a lot like the wine! I swear on the most gloomy and grey day, this tortilla and Albariño combo will transport you to the warmth a summer’s day.*
The tinned fish renaissance
It’s very exciting to see more of a move to the Mediterranean style of eating and drinking. So much so we’re seeing more Spanish companies like Consorcio launching product in the UK. With a focus on artisanal products, tradition, bespoke production, patience and quality value they’re injecting much-needed excitement and buzz around the humble tin of tuna.
So what will you be whipping up at your next supper club?
*The importer for all three wines is Moreno, and will be available nationally from a selection of independent wine merchants.