There's something fishy going on over there
September 23, 2011 5:04 PM   Subscribe

Feeling disenchanted with tuna salad, but want to keep eating fish for lunch every day. What are you best suggestions for easy, portable lunches that feature fish as a prominent ingredient? These need to be fully assembled before work and need to either taste good cold (ideal) or reheat in a microwave really well.
posted by corn_bread to Food & Drink (38 answers total) 67 users marked this as a favorite
Egg salad with Sardines and Green Olives
posted by Confess, Fletch at 5:06 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I use king prawns a lot, because a pile of king prawns and some sweet chilli sauce is a meal, kind of.
posted by fraac at 5:10 PM on September 23, 2011

I like salmon salad sandwiches (canned salmon + mayo).
posted by kitcat at 5:14 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

baked salmon. possibilities almost endless. soy glazes, herb combinations, butter or no butter. and you even make salmon salad for sandwiches.
posted by bilabial at 5:14 PM on September 23, 2011

I take left-over baked salmon, with whipped cream chesse and dill on whatever bread.
posted by Neekee at 5:16 PM on September 23, 2011

...or smoked salmon (lox) with cream cheese and capers on bread.
posted by kitcat at 5:22 PM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

Yeah lox add some tomatoes maybe some onion, heaven.
posted by Max Power at 5:26 PM on September 23, 2011

Get Rich Slowly posted a Thai tuna salad recipe that is absolutely nothing like the usual mayonnaise-based tuna salad. It's fantastic.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:28 PM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

If shellfish count, you could very easily make salad rolls which of course are served cold and can include really whatever other ingredients you want. Plus, rice paper is super-cheap.
posted by Pomo at 5:31 PM on September 23, 2011

If you can get (and afford) pre-packaged bbq salmon, salmon caesar salad is nice. To me, if you try to cook the salmon yourself you can just never get it tender enough or get the seasoning right.
posted by kitcat at 5:32 PM on September 23, 2011

different fish? Mackerel salad is tasty.
posted by corvine at 5:34 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Homemade fish cakes. I usually make them with leftover cooked salmon, but you could use raw. They freeze and reheat really well. I don't usually use a recipe, but basically - an egg, some salmon, some bread crumbs, chopped onion (and other chopped veggies if desired. Form into cakes and fry 'em up. Good over rice, salad, or by themselves.
posted by beyond_pink at 5:36 PM on September 23, 2011

Spinach salad with goat cheese and a tuna steak or smoked salmon.
posted by Occula at 5:41 PM on September 23, 2011

I keep tins of sardines (I like the ones in mustard as well as the ones in oil), as well as tins of smoked oysters, smoked mussels, and canned salmon or tuna on hand for lunch. The sardines are good with crackers and blue cheese. I usually just eat the shellfish alone. The gourmet grocery near me sells anchovies wrapped around almonds that I love to serve with a hard cheese and crusty bread with cornichons.

The canned tuna fish I like both as sandwiches and in a salad with cannelini beans and sundried tomatoes. The canned salmon is good served like tuna fish (mixed with condiments served on bread), or in a salad with nuts and dried fruit.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:04 PM on September 23, 2011

Of course most of those lunches are a bit stinky, but I have an office with a door I can keep closed.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:05 PM on September 23, 2011

I like herring in wine sauce- in a salad or a sandwich
posted by abirdinthehand at 6:13 PM on September 23, 2011

A twist on tuna that I've recently come to love is canned tuna, cottage cheese, whatever veggies you have on-hand (i love red peppers, tomatoes or spinach), salt & pepper.. voila. A handful of crackers - done.
posted by angsolom at 6:17 PM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

How about a little Catfish Ceviche?
posted by Marky at 6:19 PM on September 23, 2011

Poach 2 tilapia loins in a tablespoon of melted butter, 2 TBS lemon juice, and a minced clove of garlic. Eat one for dinner with baked brown rice, smother the other one in spicy salsa and eat it for lunch. It's awesome both ways. I like tilapia because I don't think it's as stinky as other fish when reheated the next day, and I like the loins (Costco sells them) because they don't taste like dirt or fertilizer like the vast majority of the other tilapia I've bought (I know the tricks that are supposed to fix this and they don't work).
posted by peep at 6:32 PM on September 23, 2011

If you can bring a tin of sardines, some good bread, a lemon and, for maximum gastronomic achievement, a bottle of hot sauce or a bit of butter, you can have a transcendent lunch for mere tuppence.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:32 PM on September 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

I like making baked salmon with a little curry powder and serving it cold the next day with cold bean salsa: just garbanzo beans, black beans, red onion, and one green and red bell pepper chopped up with some garlic, lime, cumin, salt and pepper, and cilantro. The bean salsa takes best the next day after chilling for a while, and salmon is sturdy enough that it's good cold.

I ate this a lot this summer for dinner, and then had cold salmon leftovers with bean salad for lunch the next day.
posted by shortyJBot at 6:34 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like leftover baked salmon with a salad. I like the salmon better cold the next day than I do when it's hot and fresh.

It's kind of the wrong season for it (in the Northern hemisphere) but I also love a good salade Niçoise. You could use salmon here, too.

Tuna and white bean salad is also fantastic.

When I was a teenager in Belgium I would sneak out of school once a week and get crab salad on a baguette. Yum!

Another favourite is a hollowed tomato or half an avocado and those tiny bay shrimp, topped with a little mayo.
posted by looli at 7:01 PM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Cold poached salmon with mayo and maybe some cucumber salad on the side is one of the greatest meals ever. Easy to take to work in tupperware.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:09 PM on September 23, 2011

Smoked salmon with cream cheese and dill on a mild sourdough or a mild rye. Toss in some capers if you're in the mood.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:15 PM on September 23, 2011

I love smoked kippers (found in a can near the tuna fish). I like 'em served up with some hot peppers or pepperoncini.
posted by Sassyfras at 7:21 PM on September 23, 2011

Ceviche is really easy, and is a great topping for salads; but unless you have time for overnight to 24 hours to marinade/cook, cut the pieces smaller than the recipe usually calls for and add extra lime juice.

I found snapper cooks in the acid really well and if you're worried about uncooked fish, you can
treat sashimi grade fish. Toro ceviche is heavenly.
posted by porpoise at 7:29 PM on September 23, 2011

Smoked trout is a nice tuna alternative. Tuna made with avocado (or guacamole) instead of mayo is lovely, too.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:41 PM on September 23, 2011

I really like poached fish for this sort of thing (any firm-fleshed fish works well). Poaching seems to keep any fishy smells to a minimum and the result is as versatile as any chunk of protein. I top either leafy green or grain salads with flaked poached fish, or as CunningLinguist suggests you can pack it with a sauce for a fancier meal. Also good as a topping for an open-faced sandwich or mixed with stir-fried veggies or fried rice.

If you are eating fish every day though, may I suggest you consider the environmental impact and broaden your choices? Small fish like sardines and kippered herring (the bacon of fish, in my opinion) are lower on the food chain and more easily replenished in the wild. Big steaks come from big fish, which take years to mature and are becoming scarce. Oysters, mussels, lobster and crab are great choices too. Sorry for the derail.
posted by cali at 7:53 PM on September 23, 2011 [5 favorites]

How about an alternative tuna salad? I'm partial to this one (which I've posted here before). The amounts of all of these things are up to your personal preference:

- can o' tuna - I like the fancy tonno stuff in olive oil
- a can o' beans - pinto, black, chickpeas, whatever works for you
- some cooked then cooled quinoa - I usually use about 1/3 cup (measured before cooking) for this
- chopped red or orange bell pepper
- chopped cucumber
- sliced scallions
- small amount of finely chopped raw onion
- one minced clove of raw garlic
- feta cheese
- lots of fresh cilantro, or flat parsley if you hate cilantro

Directions: Mix all that stuff together. Toss with Italian dressing. Stick it in the fridge, and then eat it.

It is delicious cold. I make that for work a lot.
posted by wondermouse at 7:53 PM on September 23, 2011 [5 favorites]

Not trying to be a downer here, but since you mentioned that you want to eat fish every day, I think you might benefit from doing a bit of research to be sure that the species of fish you eat are low in mercury, or how often you should eat those that tend to have higher mercury content. Here are some guidelines for tuna.
posted by gimli at 8:47 PM on September 23, 2011 [5 favorites]

Agree with previous poster that Tuna is a bad choice as an every-day fish cause of likely contamination.

I go with skinless boneless sardines or mackerel in Olive Oil as one of the healthiest things around (and both are deep water fishes, and thus less likely to have contaminants). Only downside is you are treated worse than a smoker by people with sensitive noses.

(I was once kicked out of the "dining chapel" at Kripalu Yoga Center after cracking open a can of sardines--I was desperate for some extra protein but neighboring vegans complained...)
posted by Jon44 at 8:51 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

At places like Whole Foods, you can get salmon 'jerky' and/or 'candy' (salmon bits cured with brown sugar). Both are very tasty and very easy to eat. And no reheating or preparation required.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:41 PM on September 23, 2011

an instant noodle soup, a bunch of frozen mixed veggies, frozen shrimp, a spoonful of tom yum paste - microwave them all together in a big bowl and you've got a killer soup lunch
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:41 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can fill onigiri (Japanese rice balls) with any kind of cooked or smoked fish. You'd need to make them in the morning before work - I wouldn't want to take chances with rice cooked the day before - but once made, like sandwiches, they don't need any further preparation before you eat them. Also, they're a lot less pungent than other ways of eating fish.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 12:09 AM on September 24, 2011

Warmed fish dishes can be tough for an office lunch because of the stink, but fish pie might be a good option. Poach or sautée any fish (or seafood) and break it into smaller chunks. Combine with some veggies (celery, carrots, peas, green beans-- whatever you have on hand) sautéed with onion and butter. Add a dash of worcestershire sauce and/or lemon and salt and pepper. Cover this mixture in a baking dish with a layer of mashed potatoes. Some people also like to mix some shredded cheese into the mashed potatoes. Then bake it until the top is golden. You can then portion this out into several servings and freeze in plastic containers. It will thaw by lunchtime and you can throw it in the microwave.
posted by amusebuche at 1:09 AM on September 24, 2011

Onigiri are perfect for this, and also, you might want to take a look at traditional Japanese boxed lunches. A lot of people I know have a small cut of fish on rice, cold or reheated, for lunch pretty much every day.

(for what it's worth, I've made onigiri the night before countless times, and never had any issues)
posted by Ghidorah at 6:59 AM on September 25, 2011

Smoked mackerel is barely more expensive than tinned tuna and can be used in much the same way with a far superior flavour. One of my favourite packed lunch dishes is a pilaff made with leftover cooked basmati, fried sliced onions, cumin, flaked smoked mackerel and a few toasted pinenuts. Heats well too if you're so inclined (just make sure the rice gets piping hot).
posted by fray at 9:27 AM on September 25, 2011

I got some ventresca tuna a while back and it is from a different universe from regular canned tuna. It's rich and flavorful and almost creamy. Doesn't need mayo or anything. Just put it on bread. I bought a bunch of these on sale at Gourmet Garage in NYC for 5 or 6 bucks each. Not sure what I will do when I run out as they are clearly super-pricey. There are other brands of ventresca tuna, but I don't know if they're as good or any cheaper.
posted by SampleSize at 9:51 PM on October 4, 2011

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