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The internet’s obsessions can be hard to keep up with because of high turnover, can come from anywhere and are sometimes too puzzling to stop and think about for too long before you just hit “buy.” That’s how I feel about the latest viral TikTok trend I’ve been seeing: tinned fish.
Gen Z loves to take old things, like tinned fish and Vaseline, and make them seem new, revelatory and fresh in the form of TikTok and Instagram content. Usually, an internet trend is a tad absurd, attention-grabbing or at least a little impractical. Tinned fish are shelf-stable, relatively inexpensive and nutrient-dense. Is this Gen Z suddenly making the utilitarian trendy? Does this go hand in hand with their fascination with loose, durable clothing from brands like Carhartt over the cheap, skin-tight options millennials rocked for years?
TINNED FISH GIRLIE 4 LIFE!! 🐟#condimentclaire
Whatever it is, I’m into it, and a recent study shows that the popularity of canned food isn’t slowing down. In fact, it’s speeding up. Sardines are delicious, and I welcome any boutique brand that wants to sell them to me for an elevated price in cute, IG-worthy packaging.
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The History and Types of Tinned Fish
I recently traveled to Portugal, where tinned fish like sardines are sold regularly in restaurants and preserved with olive oil, tomato sauce, garlic and other spices. They’re delicious, and have been around far longer than you’d think. In the late 1700’s, the French — and specifically a chef name Nicolas Appert from the Champagne region — realized that preserving food in cans made it easier to ship to soldiers and sailors fighting in wars around the world.
Now, Spain and Portugal regularly grill their freshly caught fish and mollusks before canning them with oil, and Alaska and Scandinavia smoke their fresh seafood before doing the same. You can order a whole bunch of tinned fish online, including tuna, sardines, clams and mussels. There are also lesser known types of fish available that you may not have heard of, including cockles, which are a smaller cousin of clams.
Where To Buy Tinned Fish Online
Tinned fish can be ordered from a number of sources online and shipped right to you! It’s shelf stable, making it easier to ship than more perishable foods, and the small tins make it easy to package efficiently. Here are some of our favorite places to order tinned fish on the internet in 2022.
Co-founded by Becca Millstein and Caroline Goldfarb, Fishwife is a domestic company that specializes in smoked trout and tuna. After Millstein studied abroad in Spain and fell in love with the tinned fish tapas culture, she wanted to bring that same appreciation to the States. They have a few delicious flavors available, and are aiming to expand their product selection as the food gains in popularity.
Wild-Caught Smoked Albacore Tuna
Their tuna is hook-and-line caught in the PNW and brined in olive oil, sea salt, garlic and brown sugar. They’re smoked in small batches over a signature alderwood, hand-packed and canned by a family-owned cannery partner in Oregon.
Smoked Atlantic Salmon
If you’re a smoked salmon fan, then this is the next tinned fish to try. It’s brined in extra-virgin olive oil, natural sea salt, organic garlic salt and organic brown sugar, and smoked over a blend of beech, maple and birch wood. It’s sourced directly from the Arctic and raised by third-generation family farmers familiar with deep ocean currents that maintain the water’s freshness.
2. Patagonia Provisions
Patagonia, one of our favorite outdoor apparel brands, also sells organic, regenerative food that’s good for the planet and aimed at solving specific environmental problems. Seafood that isn’t properly sourced or raised can be destructive for the planet, which makes Patagonia Provisions our second favorite place to buy tinned seafood online.
They have a variety of tinned fish to choose from in one of the widest selections we came across. You should definitely check out their tinned fish page to see everything that’s available.
Lemon Olive Spanish White Anchovies
These canned Spanish white anchovies are made with a much milder flavor that the salty, fishy anchovies you’re used to. They have a delicate texture, and are packed in olive oil for optimal freshness. They’re a prime example of eating lower on the food chain, and the environmental benefits that can come from it over other types of seafood.
Spanish Paprika Mackerel
This Atlantic mackerel has been packed with a ton of flavor with slow-cooked onion, paprika, garlic and red bell pepper. It’s got a rich flavor, meaty texture and just enough heat, as well as a ton of protein, vitamin B-12. The tinned packaging, like all on this list, makes it perfect for outdoor adventures and camping trips.
3. Jose Gourmet
Jose Gourmet sells tinned seafood sourced fresh from Spain and Portugal, packaged in decorative tins with bright, colorful artwork. While you can’t order your fish directly from their website, you can fill out their order form and have it fulfilled by them or one of their local partners. This is the brand we’d pick if you’ve had seafood abroad and want to mimic that experience as closely as possible.
Spiced Octopus in Olive Oil
This octopus caught in the Atlantic Ocean uses traditional Portuguese piri piri spices to liven up the flavor while maintaining the soft, textured consistency you’re used to.