We represent the top makers of Conservas from Spain, Portugal, France, Denmark plus the 3 best from N. America. This is not the Tuna and Sardines you grew up with. It is a wide range of seafood and they are delicacies. Eat them out of the Tin or serve them in combination with other foods… it’s all good.
If you Click on most of the images on this page it will open our Recipe PDF with lots ideas on how to serve Conservas… just hover over the image and a banner will tell you what image or doc you’re opening.
The Can to Plate image opens a Google Doc that is a fantastic photo-story.
Click on any of the last 4 images and you’ll open a PDF of Ramon Pena and Espinaler’s Recipes and a link to Espinaler’s YouTube Page.
There is a video episode of Anthony Bourdain sampling tinned seafood at one of Espinaler’s Eateries in Barcelona.
We are not just talking about Sardines and Tuna! The species include Clams, Cockles, Smoked Oysters, Mussels, Razor Clams, Squid, Octopus, Scallops, Mackerel, Anchovies, Trout, Salmon and more. The quality difference from what you normally see in grocery stores is vast. The seafood is harvested at the peak of quality one day and prepared in traditional recipes and hand packed in cans the next. In addition they use real Olive Oil and the other ingredients come from the best farming practices in the world.
As Anthony Bourdain stated on his TV Show at Espinaler’s Tapas Bar in Barcelona, it is the best seafood in the world and just doesn’t get any better!
There are a lot of ways to enjoy these from eating them right out of the can to adding them to Rice or Risotto, Pasta, Pizza, Salads, Avocado Toast and more!
1. Eating Conservas Right out of the Tin…
So there is nothing wrong with this idea a lot of restaurant and wine bars serve Conservas right out of the tin! However if you are not on an all day backcountry excursion and you have access to some ingredients in your pantry try…
Try adding little acidity… Espinaler Sauce is the classic… Lemon Juice, Vinegar even Hot Sauce or Salsa.
A touch of flakey salt like Maldon Sea Salt.
2. If you are at home try warming the seafood up in a skillet.
If you prefer your seafood warm this works… Season as suggested above. In our serving suggestions PDF we have a section on torching which is also a good flavor enhancer.
The tins from Les Mouettes d’ Arvor packed in real French Butter are made to be gently Sautéed. Remove the lid and place open side down in the warming skillet till the butter starts to melt. Then use a cloth or gloves to empty the contents of the tin into the skillet… Keep sure you scrape out all the seasonings in the tin. We like to serve these with rice.
Click On the Image below or the 2 images above to open our PDF with a tom of ideas on how to serve Conservas..
Conservas Olasagasti is the marriage between an Italian and a Spanish seafood dynasty… So it is the best of both worlds and they excel at all things Tuna and Anchovies…
Their “Anchovies ala Basque” are in a Light Chili & Garlic Sauce and mild tasting like Sardines great on Pizza, Toasts and warmed up and served on rice. The Tuna… Ventresca, Bonito, Yellow Fin or Rojo it’s all delicious and priced well. They have 4 tins with tuna and additions like white beans, sundried tomato pesto, gilled onions and a couple of others. Great right out of the tin but even better served on spring greens or arugula with S&P, Lemon Juice or Vinegar and EVOO. It is even better if you warm the contents of the tins in a skillet.
We love going to European Food Shows… If fact we were invited to the big one, “Alimentaria” in Barcelona, free flights and everything for the first time 2 years ago. It was Friday, March the 13th the weekend before the Pandemic shut the world down on 3/16. They canceled the show on the 17th. Talk about bad luck!
So with us all living the COVID Blues the last 2 years and having our travel and leisure time restricted one of the ways we compensate at home is to eat and drink like Spaniards. Here are some tips.
If you click on the image below it will open a Google Doc that features 2 of Spain’s best chefs sharing the story of Iberian tinned seafoods. They talk about the various species, how they are fished or farmed and how they are used in a variety of traditional recipes. The photography is incredible. I highly recommend checking it out.
Can to Plate… Cooking with Tinned Seafood
Tuna (Ventresca) and Sardines, properly prepared and sealed in the tin with olive oil actually age in the tins like vintage red wine and get better!
How does the aging process work in the tin?
Well, the flesh of the fish still carry some digestive enzymes and when it is sealed into the tin those enzymes begin to slowly tenderize the flesh and in the case of sardines also the bones. When they finish the canning process all the air is removed from the tin so the Olive Oil does not oxidize. In Europe it’s popular to stash away tins for years.
If you are lucky you will see some Vintage Tins from Espinaler and Les Mouettes d’ Arvor on your shelves.
If you have the budget for it, when it comes to Tuna, look for the words Ventresca (made from best and freshest Tuna Belly from each maker). When the tin is labeled Tuna Belly it is still superb quality but may have taken an extra day to get in the can…. yes the best makers are that strict. However Tuna Belly is often a bargain and I recommend trying them. Both formats are tender, buttery and lovely served in a variety of recipes or right out of the tin