Canned or “tin food” as we refer to it in the Caribbean is something we all grew up eating in some form or the other. With years of experience, comes very unique and delicious way of using them. You’d never find someone opening a can and eating directly from it. Besides feeling we need to cook it to KILL the ‘germs’ (Caribbean belief), it’s all about adding extra flavor, but more importantly … stretching the one can for a few people. Remember canned foods were imported back in the day, so it was somewhat expensive.
2 cans mackerel (this one had oil and olives)
1 medium onion (sliced)
1 clove garlic (crushed or sliced)
1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
10-15 grape tomatoes (any tomato – chopped)
2 tablespoon chopped parsley
3 sprigs thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 scallions (chopped)
1 1/2 tablespoon tomato concentrate (paste)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Optional – juice of 1/2 lemon + spicy peppers
Important! If doing this dish gluten free, please go through the list of ingredients to make sure they meet with your specific gluten free dietary needs. Especially the tin of mackerel you use. Add slices of scotch bonnet or any hot peppers you have, if you’d like for the dish to have a KICK!
Heat the olive oil on a medium/low heat in a wide pan. Then add the onion, garlic and black pepper. 1-2 minutes later, add the scallions and the leaves of the thyme. Stir well and cook for another minute.
Now add the tomato paste and stir to coat the bottom of the pan. The heat will help release the natural sugar of the tomato paste for a lovely flavor.
Followed by the grape tomato (any tomato will work). Cook for about 30 seconds, then add the mackerel directly to the pot. This one I had was packed in olive oil and had sliced olives – delicious. Typically if I get the mackerel packed in water, I drain that water and discard as to get rid of some of the brine / sodium.
Break the fish a bit (don’t over-crush) and stir well. Cook on low for 2- 3 minutes, turn the heat off and go in with the parsley and lemon juice.
In under 7 minutes you’ll have a delicious topping for rice, ground provisions, dumplings or pasta and an EXCELLENT side for hot Sada Roti or worst case scenario – sliced bread! Notice I didn’t add any salt as I find the canned stuff usually have enough added salt to it, but do taste and adjust accordingly.