RECIPE: Canned Sardines on Toast with Capers & Red Onion by Mitch Tonks

Following on from our catch up with chef and entrepreneur Mitch Tonks, we take dish up some of his tasty recipes from his latest cookbook, Rockfish…

By Mitch Tonks

I love canned seafood. It becomes something different in the canning process. Oily fish like tuna, mackerel and sardines are particularly delicious. I have always wanted to can seafood caught in the UK. Canning seems to be something we don’t do much in this country yet in ports across Brittany and northern Spain it is quite a craft, and the canned anchovies and tuna from those areas are revered the world over. They’re even more expensive than the fresh catch.

There is a healthy sardine fishery in Cornwall. We bought a tonne of the new season’s catch in 2019 and worked with a Spanish seafood cannery to have the fish popped into cans. We tasted them alongside the very best of the Portuguese and Spanish rivals and arrived at the conclusion that the Cornish sardines set the bar, being fat, oily and delicious.

I’m often asked what you can do with canned sardines. This is how I prepare them at home, just a simple combination of ingredients. But the sardine mayonnaise we make at the restaurants is what transforms the dish.

1 x 140g can sardines
(I recommend Rockfish brand or Ortiz)
Sardine mayonnaise (see page 130)
½ red onion, finely sliced
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon finely chopped curly parsley
1 dill pickle, finely sliced
2 slices of sourdough bread
salt and white pepper

Drain the oil from the can of sardines and use it to make the mayonnaise.
Put the sardines in a bowl with the onion, capers, parsley and pickle. Gently break up the fish but leave nice chunks. Season. Toast the bread, then heap the sardine mixture on top.

Serve the mayo on the side.


Minerva Studio
Author: Minerva Studio