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 

 

This is a recipe and riffs on same my mother would make… She grew up in a family that ran Italian Markets in Brooklyn and she would refer to simple dishes like this as “Peasant Food”, never realizing it would become “Haute Cuisine”!  My sister, Anna Maria and I have always wished she could have tasted the ingredients we use today!

I don’t know about you but I love shellfish particularly from the Pacific N West.  These little tins are amazingly satisfying as the oysters have a meaty texture and bite and the smoke and flavors are just right.  Their Smoked Mussels are equally delicious.  There offer 3 styles Smoked, Smoked Habanero and Lemon Pepper.  If you like a bit of heat the Habanero is perfect.  Not so hot as to knock you down, it’s more about the flavor…  The best meal in a tin from outside Europe.

EKONE SMOKED OYSTERS AND MUSSELS are from the good people at the Taylor Shellfish Farms in Washington.  They operate one to the finest aqua-farms in the world.  The water is so pure and clean you can eat the oysters right off of the sea bed. If you enjoy smoked seafood put EKONE on your bucket list!

Smoked Seafood from the Pacific N West is a tradition.  In Alaska they use Alder Wood.  Wildfish is a 3rd generation smoke house that works with the fisherman from the small village of Klawock on an island in SE Alaska.  All the Salmon is great but the Sockeye is our favorite. 

Great on it’s own I will sometimes cook a 1/2 lb. of real Italian Pasta till it is al dente in the pot.  While the pasta is cooking I will drain the liquid from a tin of salmon then add it to a serving bowl and break it up in to small bits.  When the pasta is done I’ll add it to the bowl along with a generous drizzle of spicy EVOO, some grated cheese and a grind of pepper… toss and serve…  It’s delicious

The Smoked Herring is a total surprise and I like it with steamed rice or even Risotto…  I keep microwave Jasmine Rice around all the time and in 3 minutes it is ready…  Again I drain the tin of liquid add to a serving bowl with rice, then break it up a bit, add a drizzle of Spicy EVOO and crunchy Sea Salt & Pepper.

These are the bargains..  We lalso ove the Octopus and the Geoduck (GooeyDuck) but they can be pricey for beginners in advanced tinned seafood cuisine. 

They serve Conservas in some of the best Restaurants and Wine and Tapas bars in the world.  Beverages that pair well with these other worldly treats include Wines from the Old World including White, Rosé, and Sparkling.  Aperitivo Styled Cocktails, Vermouth and Craft Beer (not too hoppy).  They also pair nicely with Cheese and Charcuterie.

Check out the recipes from Espinaler and Ramon Pena two of our favorite producers!  Simply Click on the Images to open them.  

Below is Anthony Bourdain’s visit to Espinaler.

A Note About European Farming Techniques and the Ingredients they use…

The ingredients they use are often EU Certified Organic or from what is referred to a Integrated Farming Techniques which is just as good and is some ways better because they emphasize Biodynamics (letting the chickens and other birds they welcome to their farms eat the bugs rather than use pesticides and growing winter crops in the fields to prep the ground for the next harvest instead of using fertilizer).  They also use real olive oil as their go to ingredient to pack the tins and use in their recipes.