13 Ways to Fall in Love with Tinned Fish

Everything from pineapple-y mackerel to cockles packed in broth

By SAVEUR Editors

Published on June 6, 2018

Few foods are as underappreciated in America as the humble canned seafood. And unfairly so: Practical gastronomes the world over love to supplement their meals with these tasty and convenient tins, which in come in as many colorful varieties as there are fish in the sea. We enjoy topping a bed of salad greens with oil-packed mussels, or diving fork-first into a can of garlicky octopus. Here are some of our favorite tins—never more than an arm’s reach away.

These Spanish mollusks are meticulously hand-packed, so much so that opening a can is like finding a uniform field of synchronized swimmers waving up at you.*

Another from the Madrid-based brand, these mussels are floating around with strands of seaweed, which is an addition to tinned seafood that you didn’t even know was missing. It actually makes the mussels taste even more oceany.*

Keep sleeves of these organic mussels stacked in your desk to mix into green and grain salads or eat on crackers. Harvested in Galicia on family owned bateas, or rafts, they come smoked with Spanish bay wood or in sweet, spiced sofrito. *

I'm a fool for minerally Loire wine, so when I spotted these lovely blue tins of Muscadet-marinated sardines, I was hooked. The French sometimes include an extra kick of acidity in their canned fish—either in the form of wine or vinegary escabeche—and these bright, silvery fillets are particularly delicious smashed onto buttery toast.—Kat Craddock, test kitchen manager

Octopus Tin

Hailing from Portugal, these tins boast both great-tasting seafood and playful design. Try the octopus in olive oil and garlic or the sardines in olive oil or tomato sauce.*

These wild-caught sardines come in maybe the most beautiful pink and turquoise box of all time, and the skinless, boneless oil-packed fillets are buttery, rich, and neutral-tasting, without the intense fishiness that often comes with tinned seafood.*

Don't even think of these as fish: They're little bombs of umami, perfect for sneaking into anything (salad dressing, bolognese, chile) that needs a savory bass note.—Chris Cohen, senior editor

Tinned sardines are known to improve with age; high quality, oil-packed versions soften in texture and become richer over time and some shops like Le District in NYC and Zingerman's in Ann Arbor make a point of offering older vintages. Breton tinned fish institution, Les Mouettes d'Arvor, packs their sardines—bones, skin, and all—in extra virgin olive oil. If you don't plan to eat them right away, flip the cans over now and then to ensure an even texture.—Kat Craddock

Inside this Taiwanese can are big cross-section chunks of whole mackerel, preserved in a sweet and slightly spicy tomato sauce. There’s a flavor strangely reminiscent of pineapple in there too, but there doesn’t seem to be any pineapple in the ingredients. Worth a try anyway.*

Spanish specialty importer, Despaña, carries an extensive line of tinned fish from Cabo de Peñas in Galicia. Their delicate cockles come packed in broth and they are some of the best I've had. They are tender and petite and just perfect tossed into garlicky linguine for a quick weeknight clam sauce.—Kat Craddock

From Galicia, Spain, these little guys are packed in tomato sauce and paprika, giving them a slightly smoky taste. They were one of the best we’ve tried recently, and while they are great on crackers and bread, they’re also tasty enough to eat on their own.*

Produced by Pingo Doce, probably Portugal’s largest commercial grocery brand, these sardines in tomato sauce are surprisingly delicious (though also look for the ones packed in olive oil). The big, meaty fillets flake easily and make a great addition to a summertime vegetable pasta.*

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