Admittedly, I was late to the tinned fish game. It wasn’t until I visited Lisbon and walked into a store lined with walls and walls of colorful tinned fish, or conservas as they are called (you’ve probably seen photos of these beautiful displays), that I was opened up to a whole world of possibilities for preserved seafood beyond the canned tuna of my youth. It is common in many countries around the world to eat tinned seafood—it’s inexpensive and makes for a super easy snack or quick meal, especially if you don’t have much else in the pantry at a given moment. Tinned fish can be eaten simply out of the can or dressed up with lots of little bites to eat with it. On a hot day, a cold beer is a great match for this.
How to Serve Tinned Seafood
Tinned seafood can be preserved in a variety of different ingredients, which will affect how you want to serve it—so here are some general tips.
Olive Oil–Packed: For most of this category, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, etc., you can simply open up the tin and let people enjoy it, because the oil will taste good, too. Water-packed tins are also fine, but just know that they won’t have quite as much flavor as oil-packed, so you will have to work harder to add flavor (a little bit of acid, Dijon mustard, olive oil, and fresh herbs will do the trick most times—this also works for oil-packed ones, if you want to brighten them up).
Pickled Brines: These are used for tinned mussels, clams, squid, and some other seafood. Drain the liquid, then drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs.
Seasoned: Tinned seafood that comes in spiced olive oil, tomato sauce, or other seasonings, is easy to serve right out of the tin, but it never hurts to top with some herbs or feta, if you like.
Excerpted with permission from Boards and Spreads. Copyright © 2022 by Yasmin Fahr. Photographs copyright © 2022 by Julia Gartland. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Yasmin Fahr's Tinned Fish Board
- For the Lemony Herbs + Onions
- 1 small or 1⁄2 large red onion, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
- Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons), or more as needed
- 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 3⁄4 cup parsley and/or cilantro leaves (or 3⁄4 cup chopped)
- 1⁄4 cup fresh dill, mint, or basil leaves (or 1⁄4 cup chopped)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- For the Quick-Pickled Shallots
- 1/2 cup vinegar, such as apple cider, red wine, sherry, or rice wine
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced into rings or 1 or 2 jalapeño, Fresno, or Serrano peppers, sliced into rings
- For the Jammy Eggs
- 4 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
- Flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper (optional)
- For the Simple Green Salad
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon vinegar (such as sherry or balsamic) or lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small head tender lettuce, such as red leaf, butter, or baby gem
- Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For The Tinned Fish Board
- 3 tins of your preferred seafood
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 or 2 lemons or limes, cut into wedges
- Cornichons or other small pickles
- Whole olives
- Crusty bread, toasts, and/or saltines or other crackers
Make the Lemony Herbs + Onions:
In a small bowl, toss the onion with the lemon juice and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt (they won’t be submerged and that’s okay). Let sit for at least 15 minutes, or cover, transfer to the fridge,and let sit overnight, tossing occasionally. Just before serving, stir in the herbs and olive oil and toss until the onions and herbs are well coated and glossy with liquid. Taste and season lightly with additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice, as desired.
Make the Quick-Pickled Shallots:
In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, salt, and sugar until the sugar and salt have mostly dissolved. Add the shallots or jalapeños and toss to coat.
Set aside for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Make the Jammy Eggs:
Fill a medium saucepan with enough water to fully submerge the eggs, and bring to a boil.
Using a slotted spoon, carefully lower the eggs into the pot. Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle boil and cook the eggs for 6 1/2 to 8 minutes, depending on your preference, then run them under very cold water for about 30 seconds, or until cool enough to handle. Peel and halve each egg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired.
Make the Simple Green Salad:
In a medium bowl, whisk the mustard and vinegar until combined. Gradually whisk in the olive oil until smooth. Toss with the lettuce. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately
Assemble The Tinned Fish Board:
Arrange the lemony herbs + onions and the quick-pickled shallots in small bowls and place on a board or large platter. Place the jammy eggs directly on the board and serve the salad in a small serving bowl alongside. Open the tinned seafood and place the tins directly on the board (alternatively, drain and transfer the seafood to small bowls, and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice). Arrange the remaining accompaniments directly on the board or in small bowls around the board, as desired, and serve.