NEWS Canned fish is the new popular appetizer, and it’s trending at the Twin Cities market

Canned fish is the new popular appetizer, and it's trending at the Twin Cities market

Put down the anglerfish.

It’s time to revisit cured fish, and Minnesota’s favorite béchamel lye-soaked cod isn’t on this hot new menu. Instead, only a thin metal plate stands between you and some of the best seafood in the world.

Several stores in the Twin Cities are ramping up their offerings to meet demand for canned fish, as delis now feature canned mussels in escabeche sauce, and picnic baskets are filled with fine white tuna belly from Spain. At least one gourmet store will open the tin of your choice and serve you some crusty bread.

It’s a trend that’s only recently taken off, and after some restaurants on both coasts canned entire sections of their menus, more and more canners are entering the market with attractive packaging and creative mixes.

“We’re seeing newer, cooler products come out, and consumers are responding well,” said Keane Amdahl, director of marketing for Coastal Seafoods. “We sold a ton of canned seafood.”

With a penchant for pickled herring, Minnesotans are no strangers to canned, canned or otherwise preserved food. Essentially, canned fish has always been about keeping fresh food fresh. To feed people in an economical, convenient and healthy way; without wasting anything.

The exciting new wave of canned fish is equally utilitarian, rooted in the same traditional preservation practices, but with an added luxury element. Its origins can be traced back to southern Europe, especially Spain and Portugal, where conservas are a symbol of national pride and you can’t go to duty-free without being tempted to pack cans in your carry-on. A Lisbon chain whose name means the wonderful world of Portuguese sardines looks like a candy store meets a circus, only the boldly striped tins stock oil and fish instead of candy.

In the Twin Cities, canned fish-themed restaurants haven’t been as popular as they have been in Europe, New York, or Los Angeles, one of which is Kippered, a canned fish and champagne bar co-owned by Reed Herrick of St. Park Native. But interested.

When chef JD Fratzke signed on to helm Wineside, a new bar and gourmet grocery in Minnetonka, he said one of the things that excited him the most was the entire display area filled with canned goods from Europe and North America. These cans can be bought to take away or eaten at restaurants, where they are served with aioli and Patisserie 46 bread.

“Whenever someone thinks of canned tuna, they think of StarKist,” Fratzke said. “But we have the Ortiz stuff, the skipjack tuna from Sicily, and we have these stuffed calamari tubes, and they’re braised in vinaigrette, so they’re really hearty and tasty. I could bring five cans of this to the border for weekend drinking. “

Canned food is also a low-risk way to try new things, especially as popularity expands and more types of seafood find their way into the Midwest in canned form.

“We’re giving people the opportunity to taste a lot of things they might not have eaten before,” Fratzke said.

Chef Jamie Malone started adding canned fish to her menu during the pandemic when she ran a take-out-only pop-up at a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis.

“Like, oh my god, what contactless thing can we offer that would be so much fun? I can’t get people to eat in it. So, I thought, what’s the coolest picnic food I can think of? Ham and canned fish ,” Malone said. “Just the thought that you can open some tins and eat some biscuits, you won’t get better food than that.”

But the road to making canned fish a picnic delicacy has been a long one for Malone. First, she must escape childhood memories of her father opening a can of sardines with a key. “There’s no good stuff available,” she said. “I think it’s disgusting.”

Malone noticed this when world-renowned Spanish chef and humanitarian José Andrés started his own line of canned fish.

“He’s really passionate about saying, ‘Hey, this is a really, really good way to eat.’ It’s good for the world. It’s sustainable. People in all kinds of communities can use it,” she said . “If I had to track it down, I’d say he started a sea change. Maybe it’s not weird [stuff] My dad loves it all the time in the cupboard, disgusting his girls. Maybe it’s something really delicious and it’s going to catch on. “

It’s a trend that’s only getting more popular.

Coastal Seafoods occasionally offers canned food as a special in its cafe and teaches the whole class what dishes can be made from a can of fish. Market shelves are already filled with colorful cans, Amdahl said, with more varieties coming soon.

Malone, who sells her favorite tuna in a curated chef’s pantry through her Paris Dining Club, wanted to host a canned fish pop-up in her North Loop studio.

But thanks to the variety and versatility of canned seafood, anyone can throw a pickled fish party at home.

“Good food can also be easy,” says Malone. “You just open a tin, put some biscuits in and a little delicious sea salt, and you’re good to go.”

How to Serve Canned Fish

The craze for elaborate cheese and charcuterie platters has escalated to seafood. The latest popular party appetizer is the canned fish plate, an open tin of smoked trout or buttered lobster or white tuna belly, surrounded by bowls of olives and peppers, piles of toast and neat rows of salty crackers.

At Wineside, Fratzke simply opens the tin of your choice, pierces the fish with a toothpick, and serves it with a small bowl of aioli and crusty bread. “It’s going to be a very simple experience of sipping your wine, focusing on it, and — wow, I didn’t know something in a can could taste like this,” Fratzke said.

Amdahl of Coastal Seafoods likes to make open-face sandwiches from canned fish. He’d roughly chop up the contents of a can of anchovies or sardines, toss them with cilantro, shallots, and jalapeños, and pile them on top of some toasted bread with a few drizzles of olive oil and sherry vinegar. “Sardine toast,” Amdar said. “It’s amazing.”

For Malone, prep is all about what’s in the can. “Let’s say you have a can of mussels. You can make a little citrus vinaigrette and throw them in and serve it like ceviche.”

But whatever the fish, simplicity is key. “Just a little sea salt, maybe some thinly sliced ​​serrano or espelette peppers. A squeeze of citrus, or none,” Malone says. “And I always thought it was weird, but high-fat foods go really well with high-fat foods — so, like, sardines with avocado olive oil? That’s what you do.”

where to buy canned fish in the twin cities

Specialty food stores and gourmet stores throughout the Twin Cities have a growing selection of canned fish. Whether you’re after high-end Mediterranean catch or traditional Norwegian fishballs, you’ll find plenty of omega-3-rich foods to serve on a fish plate, or just enjoy with crackers.

Top row, from left:

Scout, Ontario trout with dill, $10; Surdyk’s Cheese Shop, 303 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls.,

Rügen Fisch, smoked sprats, $3.50; Bill’s Imported Foods, 721 W. Lake St., Mpls.,

second line:

Fishwife, smoked salmon, $14; Asa’s Bakery, 5011 34th Av. S., Councilman,

Mariscadora, razor clams in brine, $10.50; Kieran’s Kitchen & Market, 117 14th Av. NE., Mpls.,

Matiz, wild sardines in natural lemon essence, $5; Clancey’s Meats and Fish, 3804 Grand Ave. S., MP,

The third row:

Freshé, Moroccan Tagine Salmon, $7; Coastal Seafoods, 2004 E. 24th St., Mpls., 74 S. Snelling Av., St. Paul,

Jose Gourmet, sardines in extra virgin olive oil, $14; Wineside, 1641 Plymouth Road, Minnetonka,

Fourth line:

Eva, Adriatic sardines, $3; Bill’s Imported Foods, 721 W. Lake St., Mpls.,

Ortiz, white tuna belly in ventresca oil, $14; Coastal Seafoods, 2004 E. 24th St., Mpls., 74 S. Snelling Av., St. Paul,

Husmor, saltwater fish balls, $12; Ingebretsens, 1601 E. Lake St., Mpls.,

Bottom row:

Porto Muiños, mussels with salsa, $12; French 44, 4351 French Avenue. S., MP,

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