Maybe you haven’t been asked lately, but we’re curious – what are your thoughts on tinned fish? Most Americans have a wary attitude toward any canned fish that isn’t tuna, but in other parts of the world like Southern Europe preserved fish, or conservas, are a prized part of diet and culture. It’s time to move these mouthwatering undersea morsels to the top of your grocery list!
Tinned fish is good for you.
Health 101 taught us that a fish-heavy diet is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, but the largely neglected canned varieties are nutritional powerhouses. Oilier varieties of fish, such as sardines and anchovies are among the highest sources of omega-3s gracing grocery store aisles. Thanks to the little bones in sardines, you can pack in 35% of your daily recommended calcium intake with one tin. That’s more than a glass of milk!
It’s good for the environment.
When it comes to seafood, bivalves like clams, mussels, and oysters have some of the lowest carbon emissions around. Plus, farmed bivalves can naturally improve the water quality in their environment, leaving it cleaner and better than how it was before. Be more like a bivalve and try this recipe for pasta night – you’ll feel good about climate-friendly comfort food!
It’s not as intimidating as you think.
The best way to ease into your new micro goal of working more tinned fish into your diet is to keep it simple. Top your quintessential avocado toast with pickled red onions and sardines. Place a tin on your next charcuterie board, right next to the whole grain mustard and rye crackers. NYT Cooking columnist and tinned fish enthusiast, Alison Roman touts recipes for briny, meaty, little fish in her new cookbook, Nothing Fancy. Follow her lead and soak a tin of anchovies in white vinegar with spicy peppers for 10-20 minutes. Scoop up a salty sliver of fish onto a potato chip (that’s not scary!) and pretend you’re a local soaking up the sun in a cafe off the coast of Spain. BONUS: Roman’s favorite pony trick is adding anchovy paste to impart a deep, salty umami flavor in her recipes – technically, that’s fish in a tube not tin, but you get the idea.
It’s an adventure.
Maybe it’s going to take some time to adjust your palate to the slightly smokey wonders of tinned fish, and that’s okay. Think of it as an adventure and invite your friends and lots of wine to come along. Next time you’re at The Little Club on Hertel Ave, explore their conservas list and order “delicious sea things served in tins” for the table. Or, gather friends to stage your own test kitchen party. Pop open a bunch of tins, put out some good crusty bread like BreadHive Pain Rustique and challenge everyone to build the best bite. Experiment with marinated tomatoes, pickles, whole grain mustard, lemon wedges, olives, pepperoncini, fresh herbs, capers, avocado, cream cheese, and anything else in your fridge.
Spend some time finding your favorite flavor combinations now, then revel in having a no-cook dinner in your back pocket come summer. After all, tinned fish is the charcuterie of the sea.