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Ten Tins to Try, and Why by Anna Hezel
Anna Hezel is the senior editor of Epicurious, and the author of a book about tinned fish for Chronicle books (coming spring 2023). You can check out the latest tins she’s been popping over on Instagram.
- Minerva Mackerel Fillets in Spiced Olive Oil with Pickles, An absolute desert island pick. These fillets are buttery and tender. The oil is subtly infused with piri-piri, and just faintly sweet from the single slice (!!!) of pickled carrot. Have a tin of these with a baguette and a bottle of cold white wine next to a lake this summer.
- Codesa Serie Oro Anchovies, These are some of the most glamorous anchovies I have had. In contrast with a lot of grocery store anchovies that I’ve turned into Caesar dressings or bagna caudas in the past, these fillets are beautifully firm and intact. They have a mature, developed character that reminds me of an aged parmesan or prosciutto.
- Matiz Mussels in Escabeche, Like many tinned mussels, these from Matiz are packed in escabeche, a vinaigrette packed with paprika. These are some of the most tender I’ve had, with a formidable thwack of vinegar. Open a tin of these and a bag of chips, and it’s a party.
- José Gourmet Smoked Trout, This is both my favorite smoked trout on the market and my favorite tin of Jose Gourmet’s. The fish has a delicate, tender flake, and the smoky flavor is pronounced but not overbearing. I like to mix it with crème fraiche and chives for a very fancy trout dip.
- Nuri Spiced Sardines in Olive Oil, This is just a beautifully balanced, warmly spiced tin of sardines, full of clove and piri-piri. The flavors are subtle enough that you could incorporate these into a pasta full of caramelized fennel, but I also like to eat these totally on their own, with whatever scraps of bread I have around the house.
- Wildfish Cannery Smoked King Salmon, Last year, for TASTE, I wrote about the changing world of canned salmon. I always thought of canned salmon as a slightly retro, slightly unappealing casserole ingredient. This tin from Wildfish Cannery, in Alaska, absolutely changed my mind. The jewel-like fillets are smoked and carefully packed in the can, ready to class up your next Sunday morning breakfast frittata or rice bowl.
- Bogar Cockles in Brine, Think of cockles as smaller, sweeter, more elegant clams. Opening a tin of them is like gazing down into a swimming pool full of synchronized swimmers—dozens of dainty, pointy feet gesturing upward out of the brine. I like to open a tin to snack on with martinis before a meal. I’ll admit to having even splashed a little of the minerally brine into my martini in the past.
- King Oscar “Tiny Tots”, I first fell in love with these perfect, tiny sardines when Naoko Takei Moore made a video on her Instagram for sardine donabe rice. She fans the sardines out in a sunburst formation on top of a bed of rice, and lets the oil infuse the rice as it steams gently in the donabe. I sought out Tiny Tots after watching her video, and they (and the rice recipe) have been a staple in my kitchen ever since.
- Matiz Sardines in Spanish Olive Oil, When I’m craving sardines, this is the tin I probably reach for the most. These have an elegantly bright, clear taste and a rich texture that goes with just about anything (Shaved fennel and celery salad! Garlicky pasta! Crudites!). They also happen to be brilliantly silver and perfectly photogenic.
- Ortiz Bonito del Norte in Olive Oil (92g Round), I love canned tuna very much, but for environmental reasons, I like to enjoy it in small quantities, only every once in a while. Ortiz’s Bonito del Norte is line-caught, packed by hand, and it’s an absolute treat with some harissa, olives, and bread, or as part of a niçoise.
Order the whole set and receive a free limited edition box of “Anna’s Sardines in Oil” wooden matchsticks.