Espinaler Sauce (Salsa Espinaler)


It was in the 1950s, when Joan Tapias was at the forefront of the Espinaler company, when his wife, Ventureta Roldós, created a sauce to dress the Galician shellfish preserves that were served in the ‘Taberna’.

Ventureta, well-known in the village as a great lover of cuisine, gathered together the best ingredients to make Espinaler sauce: top-quality wine vinegar, black pepper, red pepper and a selection of spices that she never reveals.

The result: an unique sauce that some people have tried to copy but none have achieved. With this product, Espinaler has become an icon around Catalonia.

This is not a “hot” sauce in any sense. It is without heat.

92 ml or 750ml (that’s the size of a wine bottle, you probably don’t want this size until you’ve gone through a couple of the small ones).

Gift Wrap This Tin!


Ingredients: vinegar, red pepper and spices.

The classic condiment to enhance the experience of enjoying your conservas as they are often served in and around Europe.

Additional information


92ml, 750ml


  1. jfeyes (verified owner)

    I can name a bunch more sauces that I would choose over this one!

  2. Emily (verified owner)

    I love this sauce. I like to sprinkle it over (read: drench, haha) my super-duper-thinly-sliced onions; I eat those onions w/ dines, eggs, and toast. It’s great.

    As another reviewer noted, it may not be THE sauce to end all sauces; however, if you like a fragrantly vinegar-y, beautifully balanced sauce, you will enjoy this!!

    Also.. chopped up tomatoes + this sauce = amazing!! It hits alllll the fun flavor notes (sweet, tangy, spice-ful)

  3. Jeff (verified owner)

    I’ve got a hot sauce and condiment problem. At any given time I have at least a dozen hot sauces, a half dozen other sauces, and at least a half dozen pickled or fermented veggies taking up prime real estate in my refrigerator. In the interest of keeping a harmonious household, I’ve made some promises about controlling the sprawl, but I have a problem…

    Espinaler sauce is not the best sauce ever. It doesn’t pair well with everything. It is unique. It has a little something that you won’t find elsewhere, that je ne sais quoi. Though it doesn’t pair well with everything, the things it works well on it works VERY well. Sub-par sardines become elevated. Old favorites transform. Yeah, it’s just some vinegar and spices in a jar, but that’s how life works sometimes – simple things create complexity.

    When you don’t have the time or energy to parse your collection of sauces and condiments… when all you have is a couple minutes and a tin of sardines to calm a rumbling belly…. when your old standby daily driver sardine isn’t hitting quite the right notes for your palate today… Espinaler sauce is that simple thing that does the trick. It’s rarely a mistake to shake a few dashes over your tinned fish du jour.

    Thanks to Espinaler sauce, I’ve had to negotiate a new bottle quota in my refrigerator.

  4. Jason Johnson (verified owner)

    Great sauce overall. It doesn’t overpower the fish, but adds a great flavor.

  5. Odinn O Oskarsson (verified owner)

    This is a pretty great vinegar sauce, it reminds me strongly of some of the vinegar sauces served on Carolina BBQ, it works well on a lot of stuff, that little hit of acid you need on so many things, not just fish (although it is really good on fish).

  6. wadematthewtroyer (verified owner)

    Has a mild vinegary, tomatoey flavor with a hint of spice that dissipates quickly. Reminds me of shrimp cocktail sauce but without the sweetness those often have. I tried them on some small sardines and they complement their flavor really well, I can see myself grabbing this sauce when i want to change up the old reliable canned fish on crackers.

    I could also see this working really well in a light egg salad or on top fried eggs.

    It won’t replace any of my go-to hot sauces but when I want something fresh and mouth watering instead of spicy, I can see myself reaching for this.

  7. Greg L (verified owner)

    I’ve been using this sauce almost daily for around three weeks. I wish I could be clearer in my review, but this sauce is a bit of an enigma to me.

    In broad strokes, this is a very acidic hot sauce with an interesting spice combination and a brief, but firm, hotness.

    On a spoon, this stuff tastes like a pretty boring, mild hot sauce. The heat dissipates fairly quickly. When I put this sauce on lower quality tinned fish, crackers, or anything that isn’t strongly flavored, I feel like the sauce loses any quality that isn’t acidity. However, when I put this up against something with a great flavor (a high quality sardine, for example), the sauce comes to life. You get the floral and spicy/herbacious nuance that you can see floating around in the bottle. You get a great acidic punch. However, head-to-head against almost any of the dozen hot sauces I have on hand, this stuff just doesn’t do it for me. It isn’t bad, it’s just unremarkable.

    Note: you need to shake the bottle well. The first time I tried it, it tasted like watered down hot vinegar. I had to shake it for a couple minutes to really get the sediment to distribute. The next try was far different (better). I would really like if there was an emulsifier added during the production of the sauce.

  8. shortysgirl182 (verified owner)

    I really enjoyed this sauce. It has close to no spice in it so if you aren’t a fan of heat and crying while you eat from your mouth being on fire – then this is the sauce to try. At restaurants, I’m always the person that tends to order things at spice level 0 or 1 so this was a win. It has a unique flavor – heavy on vinegar w/ a mix of “spices” that aren’t specified but there’s a sweet element to me in it as well. I agree w/ someone elses’ reference to it being reminiscent of cocktail sauce but with more acid.

    I liked it so much, I easily used 1/4 of the bottle with each fish tin. I’d put a piece of fish on a cracker then drench it in the sauce. Highly recommend.

  9. Hream McDan (verified owner)

    Waited a long time to write this review as I wanted to give it a fair shake across many different applications. I’ve tried it on just about everything … oysters, mussels, sardines, mackerel, herring, garfish, octopus.

    Mussels and oysters … for my taste, Espinaler sauce shines the brightest on bivalves! Something about the Espinaler acidity & spice tends to bring out the best in them, it’s brilliant especially if the mussels/oysters have been smoked (e.g. Cole’s Smoked Mussels). As for sardines and other, it can be hit or miss … while I don’t love it on Riga Gold smoked sprats, I did love it on vintage Ferrigno sardines. I’ve also really enjoyed having Espinaler vs Tabasco contests for tins that need extra flavor, it truly can bring a mediocre sardine (e.g. Wild Planet) up enough to be interesting. Strongly recommend using the Matthew Carlson method of a porcelain soup spoon + Espinaler sauce, otherwise it does run off quite a bit. While I don’t use this on absolutely *every* tin, it is certainly something I use regularly and it’s worth your money.

  10. Riley Mitchell (verified owner)

    What’s there to say? It’s Espinaler sauce, this stuff rocks on crackers and most cans of fish, not spicy at all, but hits that tang you can be wanting with some cans. It is a little watery, but thats what bread is for, to soak up all that fishy-Espinaler-oily goodness when your done with a tin!

  11. nrbolt (verified owner)

    Not sure what I was expecting flavor-wise with Espinaler sauce but this stuff rocks! The tanginess of the vinegar and the chili spices work very well with a saltier and oil-based can of Dines. I even tried it on a bit of chicken breast I had for dinner and reminded me a lot of my dad’s old mop sauce he’d use when BBQing. I’ve always been a hardcore Dines with Louisiana Hot Sauce Guy but Espinaler Sauce highlights all the flavors and does not overpower them like traditional hot sauce. Solid 5 out of 5 for me!

  12. Evan Hayes (verified owner)

    I am admittedly a bit of a sauce addict. Whether it is hot sauce, bbq sauce, or something quirky I run across in the grocery store I tend to pick it up. I saw this sauce over and over on various conservas spots online and snagged some. This sauce is very vinegar forward. It’s not adding very much heat at all. Gives the food a tasty bite, but not making you reach for the glass of water. I grew up where restaurants commonly kept Texas Pete pepper sauce on the table and you put a few spritz on your food and this reminds me of that. If you are looking for a quick sour element added to your food this is a great choice. If you are looking for brow sweat inducing sauce, this would not be for you.

  13. ptaillon (verified owner)

    Some great reviews already but will add that because of the color, i expected this to be spicy (like hot sauce) and was a little disappointed that it wasn’t. Mind you, not any fault of the product rather, just my misguided expectation. I will say that this vinegary sauce adds great flavor to any tinned fish (at least the ones I’ve tried it with so far), especially those that taste a little on the bland side. Planning to keep this on hand next to my hot sauces because there will always be a time and place for this condiment.

  14. Christopher Therrien (verified owner)

    I first heard of Espinaler Taberna Tradicional during an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations (S4.E17 2008) when he visited the seaside bar to try fancy tinned seafood. He was enthused about the novelty of being able to eat a €156 (at that time $256) can of tinned fish with toothpicks off a wooden bar. A recall at the time thinking that most of the locals in the video must have been enjoying their beer and Vermut Negre with the reasonably priced fresh seafood ‘tapas’ displayed on the bar, and that the overpriced tins were more for tourists and gourmands with deep pockets. Now, in retrospect, my assumption is that Bourdain misunderstood his local guide and that she was actually quoting the total price for the whole shebang vs one tin of cockles or whatever.

    Not mentioned during Bourdain’s visit, however, was the house sauce: Salsa Espinaler that was offered on the bar in tall glass beakers. There was a quick shot of it being sprinkled sparingly on some razor clams, but no mention of it whatsoever. Now, thanks to YouTube we have tinned fish personalities such as Mathew Carlson and Slow Jabroni to fill-in the pieces.

    Salsa Espinaler has been well covered in other reviews. Someone mentioned it went well with sardines that lack much flavor such as Wild Planet Wild Sardines in Virgin Olive Oil, which I happen to have on hand due to a sale at my local co-op. I cut the ‘dines in half, put those sections on a soup spoon, splashed a healthy bit of sauce on the fish and down the hatch it went. (Make sure you shake the bottle well before using as the solids settle on the bottom.) The sauce is watery, hence the use of the spoon (Thanks to Mathew Carlson for the pro-tip.)

    I wouldn’t recommend Salsa Espinaler with seafood that already has great flavor or sauces because it would just get lost and add nothing of value to the taste. I do like the flavor of the sauce and used as an amendment to an otherwise flavorless fish is definitely the way to go. Tastewise the sauce is not hot and somewhat muted. Some people have tried to replicate the flavor/recipe, which I’d guess would be difficult. My suggestion is to get a bottle of Heinz 57, muddle that with some cheap malt vinegar and water and you’d have a close approximation. Or, better yet, you can just buy a large bottle from Dan and keep RTG in business.

  15. TinnedFishStoner (verified owner)

    When I first saw this sauce online I thought it was going to be a spicy kind of sauce, but to be fair I didn’t read up on how the sauce tasted before I actually got it so that’s on me, as a spicy lover I tend to associate that red color with spiciness as a previous reviewer also mentioned, but honestly I’m pretty satisfied with how it actually tastes anyways. It’s actually just a vinegary sauce that goes pretty good with any tinned seafood that needs a pop of acidity to liven things up, I’ve tried it on a few things and I like that the flavor doesn’t overpower the fish but rather adds to the flavor. I know limon potato chips are not fish but I especially enjoyed using the Salsa Espinaler on that, I think this sauce would definitely be good on a variety of different things. I bought a small bottle just to figure out how I will feel about it by the time I finish it before committing to a bigger bottle.

  16. packer.71 (verified owner)

    What I was expecting: a hot sauce like you would get from the store. Spicy, white vinegar-y, and pretty one note.

    What I got: a complex red-wine vinegar and paprika flavored sauce. Definitely one of a kind. Will it go with everything? No, but that’s because it’s designed to complement flavors of seafood! Definitely recommend.

  17. jcharlesw (verified owner)

    It says “Salsa” right on the label, so it must be hot, yeah? Not at all… I sometimes forget that the word salsa in Spanish actually translates to sauce. It’s red like a hot sauce, and it’s vinegary like some hot sauces, but it’s not hot. There’s a bit of spice in there, yes, but more “spiced” spice rather than “spicy” spice. I’ve been using it for a couple of months now, and for me it’s best used as a light splash on plain sardines. It does work well with some of the spiced sardines, but it can clash with other flavors, at least to my palette. And putting too much on quickly goes more sour than I would prefer. My preferred serving method is a fat pilchard on a plain cracker or baguette, fish smashed slightly to give some nooks and crannies to hold the sauce, then just a splash of Salsa Espinaler. Mmmm, perfection.

  18. Stacy Rosenfeld (verified owner)

    Who knew such a simple squad could enhance the flavor of fish so much?! I’m a newbie to tinned fish and this helps cut a little bit of the natural fishiness some of the tins have that I’m not quite used to yet. It’s a must have in my opinion!

  19. justindsalyer (verified owner)

    I typically like to pair my sardines w/ a mild hot sauce which this Espinaler is perfect for! The vinegar content of this sauce is also substantially higher than most typical hot sauces which I was a fan of!

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