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Canned sardines


wannabechef
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30 minutes ago, farcego said:

but in my briefly time in Scotland -St Andrews- I just discovered the kippers

 

Very sensible. I was born in St. Andrews so I know the area well. Love kippers but my  favourite fish in Scotland is Arbroath Smokies.

 

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Arbroath Smokies

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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I had a bit of a shock yesterday. I had decided to top up my reserves of Portuguese sardines and order nine cans from my usual supplier. My delivery turned up yesterday and had only one can (you can't even order one can - and they had charged me for nine). A quick phone call and I was refunded for all nine and told to accept the one can free as an apology. They then explained that they are out of stock and don't know when they can restock them, if ever!

 

I was in despair for at least ten minutes, then got back online and searched for an alternative supply. Almost immediately I found I can get the same sardines at a much lower price. Instead of three cans for ¥89.74, the new (to me) supplier does 5 cans for ¥79.14! Bargain! Next time I may just order 25 cans at a mere ¥373.70!

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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13 hours ago, blue_dolphin said:

Epicurus Gourmet is in the SF Valley area of LA and is very much worth a visit if you’re in the area. All kinds of good stuff and they're very nice people, too.

[This is driving me crazy!] I used to go to a store in that area years ago, and then it shut down. Last trip I bought some Badoit Red, mustard, sardines, etc., and they threw in a bunch of food industry magazines for free. Regardless, I don't remember the canned fish section looking like that!

 

Thanks for the heads up 👍

So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

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11 minutes ago, Joe Blowe said:

[This is driving me crazy!] I used to go to a store in that area years ago, and then it shut down. Last trip I bought some Badoit Red, mustard, sardines, etc., and they threw in a bunch of food industry magazines for free. Regardless, I don't remember the canned fish section looking like that!

 

Thanks for the heads up 👍

Their canned fish selection has been expanding and really exploded recently with the addition of those big lines from Portugal and France. 

There was a previous business in the same general area called Epicure Imports. It had very limited shopping times for the public and it shut down ~ 2015. I was told that employees partnered with an investor, bought out the business and opened as Epicurus Gourmet. 
If you go, read the driving directions on their website. The entrance doesn’t face the street, you have to turn in between 2 nondescript warehouse buildings to see it. 
 

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In my post above, I mentioned the entertaining artwork on some of the sardine packaging. My shelfie wasn’t sharp enough to clearly show the cartoon designs on one of the brands from Portugal but this link to their website does. Notice the skinless ones are changing behind a screen or taking a shower or sauna while a smoked sardine is popping up out of a chimney:
474E1CED-9588-4C8F-9902-FE704A643D2F.png.e54de1ee9cf806c93f7de0593c207b78.png

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4 hours ago, blue_dolphin said:

In my post above, I mentioned the entertaining artwork on some of the sardine packaging. My shelfie wasn’t sharp enough to clearly show the cartoon designs on one of the brands from Portugal but this link to their website does. Notice the skinless ones are changing behind a screen or taking a shower or sauna while a smoked sardine is popping up out of a chimney:
 

Thank you for sharing the link to their website. Now I am seriously considering buying and shipping a couple of their sardine t-shirts to my mother's house in Spain :D

 

Going back to the sardines, I feel Spain has been quite behind Portugal and France in terms of marketing Sardines, given that we share very similar ways of eating and canning them (and we share same species and ocean). I really like some of the art that is on some french and Portuguese ones. This is relatively new to Spain, but some beautiful cans/boxes (and delicious inside) can be fund too.

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Made the recipe for Fusilli with sardines, 'nduja, and pecorino from Chris McDade's book, The Magic of Tinned Fish, mentioned upthread. 

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I used cascatelli instead of fusilli.  Between the sardines, 'nduja and pecorino, plus butter to finish, it's very rich and is super flavorful for such a quick dish.  A bit of an umami bomb as is.  I'd add an equal volume of green vegetables like zucchini, peppers, rapini, etc. along with the pasta.  I threw a bunch of steamed broccoli in with the leftovers and it helped balance out the richness and add textural contrast. 

 

Used a tin of these Matiz sardines which looked lovely and tasted excellent. Pretty much disappeared into the sauce. 

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Another recipe from The Magic of Tinned Fish, the Sardine Po'Boy.  Per the recipe, this is constructed by spreading French bread with a rémoulade dressing, then layering, in order, sardines, radishes, scallions, tomato, dill pickles, lettuce and a squeeze of lemon.  I really liked this combination of flavors and textures but it was rather messy to eat. I picked out a lot of the crumb to make room for the filling so it's not as bready as it looks here. 

D60A6846-0B84-48CB-ABD6-C0E3E62263D4_1_201_a.thumb.jpeg.0f76c01410a658a730669316a4627222.jpeg 

Good, but messy.  A different loaf and less rémoulade would have been better but I think a mess would have ensued in any case. 

Having some sardines leftover, I considered re-inventing this as a salad with the bread turned into croutons but wanted to maintain the intent of getting a bit of everything in each bite so I tossed most of the ingredients together with the rémoulade and piled it on toasted baguette slices.  Ran out of lettuce to I had to use baby kale.

B392BA5F-E56D-451B-AAA0-71D50A1BAFFE_1_201_a.thumb.jpeg.4ac71e42cbff54cda2ef12b931660a61.jpeg

This was good, too.  Could have been a sandwich on sliced bread.  Or a filling for tomatoes or avocado.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sardines in the NYT:

Quote

 

In Portugal, Taking a Dive Into Sardines

The canned fish are having a moment in the food world. A tour of a canning factory in Porto gives an up-close view of a century-old business.

 

 

 

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So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

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12 hours ago, Joe Blowe said:

Sardines in the NYT:

 

 

 

I read that NY Times sardine article yesterday at work.  Pricy sardines however.  Nonetheless the article made me want to purchase some.  Amazon prices are ridiculous.  Supermarket Italy is more reasonable.

 

Still, what makes Portuguese little fishies so much more expensive than Spanish?  Not a trivial concern as my boss is a Spanish speaking Iberiophile, while her boss is Portuguese.

 

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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1 hour ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

I read that NY Times sardine article yesterday at work.  Pricy sardines however.  Nonetheless the article made me want to purchase some.  Amazon prices are ridiculous.  Supermarket Italy is more reasonable.

 

Still, what makes Portuguese little fishies so much more expensive than Spanish?  Not a trivial concern as my boss is a Spanish speaking Iberiophile, while her boss is Portuguese.

 

I too read the article yesterday. Did I miss something? I don't recall there being any comparison to Spanish sardines; everything in the article was based on a trip to Portugal. I have never tried the Nuri brand that the article highlights. Portuguese and Spanish tinned fish are both considered the best, which must be a magical blend of the quality of the fish caught off the the coasts of both countries and the care and techniques of the canning processes they have developed over many years.

 

 I've tried various pricey sardines from Portugal and Spain, and so far the Spanish Matiz are my favorites. Right now Amazon (prime) is selling a 5-pack of Matiz for $17. So a can costs a little less than $3.50. Santo Amaro, a Portuguese brand, sells on Amazon currently a 12 pack for $36 which is a bit less per can. Those are good too, but I prefer the Matiz. The Nuri sardines sell on Amazon as a variety 4-pack for $27, or close to $7 a can. I'm sure they are good, but I'm not ready to spring for that.

Edited by Katie Meadow (log)
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I am familiar with Matiz.  I was just wondering if there was something that made Portuguese sardines (or other Portuguese fish products) better to account for the higher cost?

 

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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I don’t think they are more expensive per se. From the two national economies and their salary and price level structure you won’t find much facts supporting a general price gap. What you will get is broad range of products with different qualities and thus different price tags. So my hypothesis would be that price differences are a result of exported brands and availability.

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42 minutes ago, Duvel said:

I don’t think they are more expensive per se. From the two national economies and their salary and price level structure you won’t find much facts supporting a general price gap. What you will get is broad range of products with different qualities and thus different price tags. So my hypothesis would be that price differences are a result of exported brands and availability.

 

While that may be a factor, I remain convinced that Portugal just selects better quality fish in the first place. If I compare the fish in my favourite Portuguese sardines with say a British brand, the former are notably larger, plumper and yes, tastier. Top quality attracts a premium price. 

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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3 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

While that may be a factor, I remain convinced that Portugal just selects better quality fish in the first place. If I compare the fish in my favourite Portuguese sardines with say a British brand, the former are notably larger, plumper and yes, tastier. Top quality attracts a premium price. 

What happens to the smaller, thinner fish in the catch? Animal feed? Cheaper brands/sold to John West? School dinners? Not being facetious.

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2 minutes ago, Kerala said:

What happens to the smaller, thinner fish in the catch? Animal feed? Cheaper brands/sold to John West? School dinners? Not being facetious.

 

Probably. I don't know.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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40 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

While that may be a factor, I remain convinced that Portugal just selects better quality fish in the first place. If I compare the fish in my favourite Portuguese sardines with say a British brand, the former are notably larger, plumper and yes, tastier. Top quality attracts a premium price. 


Select for export ? For canning ? Certainly not for fishing …
 

Rest assured, in both Spain and Portugal you‘ll get cheap & „inferior“ sardines. It just that export might be limited to the higher quality items (maybe because the inferior stuff is available everywhere anyhow) ?

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4 minutes ago, Duvel said:

Rest assured, in both Spain and Portugal you‘ll get cheap & „inferior“ sardines.

 

Yes, I know but, in my experience, in general, people in those countries are more demanding about the quality of their sardines than people in some other places. That's all.
 

 

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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11 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

 

Yes, I know but, in my experience, in general, people in those countries are more demanding about the quality of their sardines than people in some other places. That's all.
 

 


Fully with you. That’s why the ultra-high end stuff usually doesn’t make it out of country 😜

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IMG_7248.thumb.jpeg.3ba900eb3e97c75f158b5c139d8a7932.jpeg

 

IMG_7247.thumb.jpeg.49cd5cdbe3d92ef322cc98e942b3d0c8.jpeg

 

This is a brand I purchased in Getaria, at their retail location.  Pretty damn good stuff...https://www.salanort.com/es/

 

In the States, Fall River, MA is one of the largest Portuguese communities.  And Portugalia Marketplace is awesome.

They carry a few different sardines...https://portugaliamarketplace.com/collections/sardines

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@weinoothanks for the marketplace visual. Does this operation have a poster for sale? Other merch? Surely there are sardine tee shirts? Wallpaper (the old fashioned kind) that I can use in my little bathroom off the kitchen? If I go to Portugal I want to schedule my visit for the tinned sardine art fair.

 

@Keralawas asking about the smaller fish in the catch. What does Matiz market as baby sardines? Maybe the smaller ones are even more valuable. Maybe a sardine weighing three pounds ends up as cat food. It wouldn't be cost effective to make that big of a can, although the possibility for can art would be fabulous.

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It’s  not obvious from their name, but another tinned fish source with one of the widest selections I’ve seen is Rainbow Tomatoes Garden.

Their listings look overwhelming at first glance but can easily be filtered or sorted by country of origin, company and type of fish. 

Some of their prices are on the high side compared with my local import shop but others are comparable. 
 

 

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I've been falling thoroughly down the tinned fish rabbit hole for the past couple years. So I'll try to answer questions to the best of my ability.

 

Small sardines are sold as small sardines, and there can be as many as 25 or 30 in a standard sized tin. They command a price premium over the normal 3/5 count per tin, as they're more labor intensive to prepare and pack. My go-to small sardine brands are Ramon Pena gold line and Conservas de Cambados. Here's some shots of a RP 20/25 count tin:

 

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There are two layers.

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Spain and Portugal both produce extremely high quality products, but you have to focus on the cannery rather than the country of origin.

 

That recent NYT piece was okay, but they're rehashing the content of this Business Insider video from a couple years ago (that has 12 million views):

 

 

The spicy Nuris from that cannery are one of my "daily driver" tins. They're $5 at World Market, but they sometimes run promotions. I order them online and pick up in-store, which saves you 10%.

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