Trying Tinned Fish
I have a strange new interest, and if you couldn’t tell from the title, it’s tinned fish. Trust me when I say I had zero interest in tinned fish until recently, when I somehow stumbled upon TinnedFishTok, which is just like a section of TikTok in which enthusiastic tinned fish enjoyers post about their new finds and experiences trying stuff. They influenced me into trying some for myself. Namely, this one girl I follow named @daywithmei. Her “Tinned Fish Talk” series inspired me to get some tinned fish and give them a whirl.
I wasn’t sure where to start, or rather with what type of fish. Should I just go to Walmart and buy sardines in a can? I felt like I wanted something more curated than that. I thought maybe I should try one of the subscription boxes daywithmei posted about, especially since she had a discount code for them, but what if I hated them and forgot to cancel and then got more fish? It seemed like that was jumping too far into the deep end for a first-timer.
Thankfully, I found a variety box curated by Bespoke Post. It came with six tins to try, which seemed like a good amount.
Lightly Smoked Sardines in Spanish Olive Oil by Matiz
Mackerel in Olive Oil by Siesta Co.
Wild White Albacore Tuna in Garden Herb Pesto by Scout Canning
Chorizo Spiced Mussels by Tiny Fish Co.
Enoki Mushroom Snow Crab by Seed to Surf
Sardines with Preserved Lemon by Fishwife
Quite the lineup! Two types of sardines, mackerel, tuna, mussels, and plant-based crab. Definitely some interesting ones in there.
I enlisted the help of my dad, who suggested we start with one type of sardine and end with the other type since there were two. I thought that was a great idea, and picked Matiz’s lightly smoked sardines first.
The box says these sardines were wild caught in the eastern Atlantic and hand packed in Galicia. The box also claimed that they’re considered one of the finest sardines available. When we tried to get a filet out of the tin, it fell apart, so it was clearly pretty tender. I put a small amount on a Saltine.
I felt kind of strange eating fish with the skin still on, but it ended up being very mild in flavor. It mostly just tasted like white fish, which I like, so it was pretty good. An inoffensive start to our tinned fish trials.
Stepping it up a notch, I picked the Chorizo Spiced Mussels:
The box for the mussels said they were farm raised in the waters of the Pacific Coast. The first thing I noticed, other than the pack-a-punch flavor, was that these mussels weren’t rubbery at all. They had a really good texture for a mussel, and I actually love mussels so I was excited to try these. They were really interesting!
Switching back to fish, the mackerel was next:
I can’t say I’ve ever had mackerel before this, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The filets were quite large, and made for a substantial bite. It was flavorful without being overwhelming, and basically just tasted like a better version of tuna. Like this would make an awesome tuna salad if you replaced the tuna with it. It was good!
Finally we tried the one I was most curious about. The mushroom crab:
These definitely did not look super appetizing, but much to my surprise they smelled exactly like crab. Plant based seafood is a really interesting concept, so I was excited to give it a go. These mushrooms were seriously flavorful, but it’s hard to describe what exactly they tasted like. They had a strange sweetness to them, which actually reminded me of how crab meat tends to have a sweet flavor. They were kind of slimy. I kept going back for more, unlike with everything else we’d tried so far.
We ended up finishing off this entire tin once we started putting heaps of it on Saltines. It was so strange and weirdly good. I would definitely try this company’s other plant based seafood, which is their Celery Root Whitefish.
Another one I was excited for was the albacore tuna in the pesto sauce, because I love pesto:
This looked SO icky to me. For some reason it was one big chunk, so it was kind of hard to get apart for a bite. The tuna was dry, which was like, how do you manage that when it’s literally in liquid. The pesto was fine, overall it was adequate but definitely the biggest disappointment of the tinned fish. I found this particularly unfortunate because the company, Scout Canning, is part of 1% For the Planet, which means that they donate 1% of their annual revenue to environmental protection causes. Also, this tuna was line and pole caught, rather than caught with fishing nets, so like that’s awesome too! It was caught in the strait of Juan de Fuca, which is off the Northwest Pacific coast. I really like their business practices so it’s unfortunate to me that this fish was just kind of meh, and the least liked in the box.
Finally, the other sardines by Fishwife:
I guess I always assumed that sardines were tiny, but these were really big sardine filets! The box says they’re packed in Spanish olive oil with preserved lemon, and they were in fact pretty lemony, so no lie there. Again, the sardines were good, but nothing mind blowing. Of course, this is all just based on us eating them straight out of the tin, or putting them on a Saltine. I’m sure these could be really good if you did something with them rather than just eat them plain.
So, overall thoughts on the variety box: Pretty positive! It was fun to try new things, and most everything was rather satisfactory. It was nice to try a variety of things without trying anything too wild. One thing I was interested in when it came to this endeavor was cost. How expensive is tinned fish? Was I getting a good price for this variety box?
The variety box was $49, and after taxes and shipping came out to $57.86 total. So I decided to look up the cost of the individual tins they included. One thing I noticed with these tinned fish companies is that some of them sell their tins only in three packs, and you aren’t really able to buy just one tin from them. So right off the bat I do think that this box is beneficial for that reason.
Anyways, here’s what I’ve discovered!
Matiz Lightly Smoked Sardines– $4.19 a tin
Siesta Co. Mackerel– $24.95 for a 3 pack, so about $8.32 per tin
Seed to Surf Enoki Mushroom Snow Crab– $30 for a 3 pack, so $10 a tin
Scout Canning Wild White Albacore Tuna– Sadly, I couldn’t find this one on their website, but here’s their other tinned fish, which varies in cost based on the type of fish. I would imagine the cost of the tuna would be close to the cost of the rainbow trout, which is $23.99 for a 3 pack, so we’ll guess-timate that the tuna was probably about $8 a tin
Fishwife Sardines with Preserved Lemon– $32 for a 3 pack, so almost $11 a tin
So if you add up the cost of each tin individually, which again some of them aren’t available individually, you get $55.51. Then I probably would’ve had to get individual shipping and taxes on each. So I actually think this box was a good idea! I’m glad I went with this box, and I would definitely recommend it if you are also interested in trying some interesting tinned fish for no real reason.
Anyways, thanks for coming along on this tinned fish adventure with me! I think I’ll explore this further.
Which one looked the best to you? Would you try plant based seafood? Do you absolutely hate seafood? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!