Give a man a fish and he will have fish for a day. Teach a man to eat fish from a can and you win him loads of time and a deep and special kind of love. (A 120 year old proverb, modified)
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August 1, 2023
It’s unjust. Canned fish doesn’t receive the honor that it rightly deserves. Unless you are Portuguese, eating canned fish can be snubbed and held in poor regard as a sign of laziness, culinary ineptitude, or indifference for the excellence of a freshly cut slab of fish. But I am here to tell you, this couldn’t be further from the truth. There, tucked away in a dark nook of my pantry, lie compact treasures just waiting and pleading to be transformed into plats de resistance.
Since canned fish is already cooked, for dishes preferred warm, there’s no need for heating longer than but a minute or two. And don’t commit the woeful crime of not including the liquid that comes with it, as it is the life of the party. Five 🖐🏻minutes is all it takes to rustle up something these tinned marvels will have you becoming sentimental over.
[If you are to any degree skeptical they might not be safe for consumption—given their shelf life and the rare possibility that the can might not be intact—do rest assured, modern canning is as dependable as those other two universal realities, death and taxes.]
Jose Gourmet Spiced Calamari in Ragout Sauce
Portuguese-based brand JOSE GOURMET IS A TRUE REVELATION. Their website is impressive, and a true testament to the importance of these esteemed canned delicacies. Jose Gourmet’s passion, attention and innovation really shine through in their products. This can of fish, in particular, sets the standard for uniqueness, combining rice and a flavorful beef ragu with calamari. Fry on an IRON skillet, dress with a tad of olive oil and moisten those lips with that precious ragu grease.
Good enough— when impatient enough—to spoon straight from the can. Another alternative: a seemingly incongruous hybrid of globs of paté over extra crispy fried artichoke quarters, with creamy olive aioli spattered atop [I can’t fathom preparing artichokes myself, so luckily I know good take-out]
[For the curious and daring among you, I implore you, avoid by all means trying their spicy muscle paté🤢]
Mouette D’Arvor Filets de Maquereaux (sauce crème moutarde)
Dump all the contents onto an 8-inch iron pan. No added oil necessary. Wait for the cream to fizz, bubble and crisp up, then lift it once thoroughly fried on one side. Serve as a massive fritter, and top with a green salad lightly dressed with walnut pieces and pungent Tuscan EVOO. Promise you’ll close your eyes with every salty mustardy crispy bite.
Pine Cone Smoked Salmon With Vodka and Beetroot $$$
Yes, it is insanely pricey for the portion size, but it can be a well-deserved occasional treat. No other smoked salmon comes close to this one. VODKA and BEETROOT infused. Very special indeed. Slice into thick plushy slivers and drizzle atop some olive oil. Add crunch with a Norwegian cracker and some crushed pistachios. (Foto attached was an experimental medley: served with a Scotch egg, shaved Belper Knolle cheese, and pistachios on a bed of olive oil and beetroot coulis😜)
Lather some Basket Ricotta by Bellwether Farms on a flaky cracker and top with these indecently salty orange bubbles and a few raw pistachios. Also good over paper thin pistachio mortadella and creamed Manchego (or ricotta) with the roe regally on top.
Atop a crispy buttery baked potato with Bellwether Farm Creme Fraiche or atop a soft scramble: The trick to prepare a soft scramble: beat 1-2 eggs, heating over the lowest heat on an iron pan, add 1 tbsp of creme fraiche or ricotta and stir the creme fraiche evenly as the eggs cook. The key is to cook slowly until you get a soft clumpy texture to the eggs. Serve with finely chopped chives, salt and the caviar. Mouth-filling comfort food for the snooty and the Sunday Troopers.