Mackerel Asparagus Salad with Sesame Vinaigrette

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Bart van Olphen/The Tinned Fish Cookbook

We’re on a mission to convert everyone we know into a tinned fish fanatic. And why not? Tinned and canned fish and seafood are convenient, shelf-stable and easy to buy sustainably, if you know what you’re looking for. Try this mackerel asparagus salad, from Bart van Olphen’s The Tinned Fish Cookbook, and you’ll never look back.

Mackerel is slightly richer and milder than canned tuna, so it’s an ideal tinned fish to try if you’re just dipping your toes in the water. Combined with a punchy soy-sesame dressing, you wouldn’t even guess it came from a can. When shopping, look for brands labeled “pole caught,” and anything with the Marine Stewardship Council's seal of approval, to make sure you’re buying sustainable, ethically sourced fish.

Recipe from The Tinned Fish Cookbook: Easy-to-Make Meals from Ocean to Plate—Sustainably Canned, 100% Delicious © Bart van Olphen 2019, 2020. Translation © The Experiment, 2020. Reprinted by permission of The Experiment.

15-Minute Mediterranean Couscous with Tuna and Pepperoncini


7 ounces (200g) green asparagus, ends trimmed

One 4.4-ounce (125g) tin of mackerel in sunflower oil, drained

Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 scallion, thinly sliced

Handful of purple shiso leaves (optional)

Sesame Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons sunflower oil or neutral vegetable oil

1 tablespoon white sesame seeds

1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 tablespoons mirin

1½ tablespoons soy sauce


1. Cook the Asparagus: Place a grill pan over high heat or prepare a grill for high heat. Brush the asparagus with some olive oil and grill, turning frequent, until slightly charred, 6 to 8 minutes. Cool slightly before cutting into 1-inch pieces.

2. Make the Vinaigrette: Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add both types of sesame seed and stir-fry until the seeds change color and release their fragrance. Transfer the seeds to a small bowl and let cool.

3. Pour the vinegar, mirin and soy sauce into the bowl with the sesame seeds and whisk with a fork until combined. Set the dressing aside.

4. Put the green asparagus on a serving platter, drizzle with half of the dressing and toss together. Break the mackerel into pieces and arrange over the asparagus salad. Drizzle with a bit more of the dressing and season with salt and pepper. Serve the asparagus topped with the scallion, shiso leaves, if using, and the rest of the dressing.

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