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Until two years ago, my experience with tinned fish was limited to canned tuna and sardines; the kind used for foot-long fast food subs and cartoon turtle’s pizza toppings. I certainly would never have never considered canned seafood a charcuterie board staple, nor would I ever pop open a can of fish to serve on a date. But in 2022, my thoughts on tinned fish turned the tide. One of my cats got sick, and, to help her regain a few pounds, I opened a press sample of canned salmon in olive oil and spices from the then-emerging brand, Fishwife. After giving a bit of the cured salmon to my cat, I noticed that aside from the chic packaging, this fish didn’t look or smell like your average tinned seafood, so I decided to try some myself. It was so rich and flavorful that I honestly regretted not saving the entire can for myself (sorry, Tygr!).
Because I just had to have more of this fish for myself, I checked online offerings and quickly realized that I wasn’t the only one newly addicted to tinned fish—TikTok was (and still very much is) filled with viral hashtags like #seacuterieboards and #tinfishdatenight, and #tinfishtok. On Instagram, I found thousands of curated flat lay posts featuring varieties of canned fish accompanied by traditionally photogenic treats like natural orange wine and caviar, proving that this once low-brow snack was now anything but. And it’s not just classic salmon and tuna that the Internet has been lusting over—canned mussels, trout, and even sardines now seem to be regarded as the new caviar.
Tinning fish has been around for centuries as a seafood preservation method. Known as “conservas” in Spain and Portugal, tinned fish is only now making a splash in America’s cultural zeitgeist. One theory is that the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 (which also arguably proliferated TikTok’s widespread popularity) may have contributed to tinned fish’s rise to fame: “The idea for—and launch of—Fishwife happened at the peak of lockdown,” Becca Millstein, Fishwife’s CEO and co-founder, told Well+Good. “There are very few shelf-stable foods that are both as easy to prepare as tinned fish and have such a rich nutritional profile, yet no American companies were catering to the audience of people looking for premium-quality, ethically-sourced options at the time.”
On the wellness front, many Internet-famous dieticians and physicians like Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D. have advocated for the health and mood-boosting benefits of nutrient-dense tinned fish. Aside from the convenience, tinned fish varieties like salmon, trout, anchovies, mussels, and tuna are excellent sources of protein and are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and Vitamin B. “We know it’s important to eat the types of fish high in omega-3’s like salmon, sardines, and mackerel for optimal cardiovascular, brain, and whole-body health. We know that farmed fish are often high in toxins like PCBs and dioxins and that they’re also exposed to pesticides and antibiotics, though farmed fish from the US may be a better choice than wild-caught fish from other parts of the world,” Hyman says on his website. Fortunately, if you’re concerned about overfishing and fish farming’s environmental impacts or the exposure to mercury or other toxins in the fish you consume, you don’t have to skip out on the tinned fish trend. Several tinned fish brands, including Fishwife, Patagonia Provisions, and Wild Planet are all known for using sustainable catching methods.
Whether it be the spotlight of its viral status right now, the long-recognized health benefits, or its truly impeccable flavor, if you’re looking to ride the tinned fish wave, scroll through below to hop on board and order some of our favorites.
Fishwife Smoked Atlantic Salmon 3-Pack
Female-owned Fishwife was arguably the brand that made tinned fish cool Stateside. I love its Smoked Atlantic Salmon, which is flavored with dark brown sugar and garlic salt, but I also recommend its newly-launched Cantabrian Anchovies in Extra Virgin Olive Oil. If you don’t think you like Anchovies, I dare you to try these. Trust me, these are delicious.
Patagonia Provisions Savory Sofrito Mussels
Yes, your favorite outdoor apparel brand also has a sister site, brimming with foodie-approved snacks and sustainably-sourced tinned fish. These sherry and paprika-spiced mussels will give you a taste of Spain sans airfare.
The Tiny Fish Co. Octopus With Lemon & Dill
Another women-owned tinned seafood brand with a highly Instagramable aesthetic game, Tiny Fish Co. is an up-and-comer not to be missed. Founded by chef Sara Hauman in 2021, Tiny Fish Co. aims to offer small, sustainably caught, and super flavorful fish from the Pacific Northwest. Do not sit out on the Octopus—trust me!
Wild Planet Foods Sardines
Wild Planet offers a selection of canned salmon, sardines, and tuna, with the crux of all of its practices rooted in sustainability. From selective harvesting to reduce wasteful fishing practices to only working with community fisherman and small-scale fisheries to protect the ocean, ethical process and practice is the brand’s guiding force—and you can truly taste the difference.
Season Mackerel in Olive Oil
For those who prefer a milder fish flavor but still want to partake in the trend and get the health benefits of say, sardines, mackerel is an excellent alternative. Season’s sustainable tinned mackerel in olive oil is a versatile fish that pairs well with other charcuterie items, like crackers, cheese, and olives.
Scout Ontario Trout With Dill
Canadian tinned seafood brand Scout is focused on promoting biodiversity and ensuring sustainable sourcing. The seafood cannery also donates 1% of sales to climate action projects and nonprofits that support protecting our oceans. They have tons of delicious and nutrient-packed seafood offerings, but the trout and dill dish is to die for.
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