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Jun 11, 2013 08:51 PM

Canned Seafood Varieties & Ideas

I was at a new international store in G'boro yesterday, and in the canned isle I snatched up a few sardines I've never had, as well as some mackerel that sounded interesting and caught my curiosity, and a friend I was wish was going crazy over the idea of eating canned fish
"Ew," he said (basically). "Why don't you just make it yourself?"
I didn't bother to mention that i couldn't make smoked mackerel with the $1.50 or less the can cost. And that I'm lazy.
If it tastes good (and is often good for you-- omega 3s & protein!) why wouldn't I have the quick, cheap canned stuff?
Ignoring him, driven by my curiosity, I wanted to grab all the different asian and hispanic canned products that actually sounded good! Being used to canned tuna, which I really don't like except in tuna salad, all these varieties and flavors are just so cool and I've always been afraid to try them; no more!

So I've seen (and looked up) quite a few threads on different types of canned seafood and people asking what to do with them over the years (sardines and crab come to mind first), but not one on the crazy variety of canned seafood there is, and what people do with them!

So here I wanted to list the canned seafood I use and how, and would love to hear what you guys buy/eat, why, and how it tastes best! And better; what do you avoid, and why?

Also, opinions please!; has anyone tried canned...
-Fried Mackerel in Chili sauce (just bought this, anxious to try hot on white rice)
-Mackerel belly in ginger and soy sauce (also bought; not sure what to do with)
-Broiled/BBQ eel (I've always wanted to try these-- I LOVE bbq eel-- but, as I said, canned seafood outside of my comfort zone has always intimidated me. Is it anywhere near the real thing?)

What other strange and interesting tinned foods do you recommend?
Don't be afraid to be specific! That belly in ginger just called to me, but who would have thought they even made such a thing?!?

Here's what I do with canned...

Crabmeat (the cheap, little cans)
*While they sell giant, big-meat cartons of these, they're hella expensive, and I just use the little cheap cans they sell next to the tuna. Cheap alternative to the real thing. Pretty much always use in soup: spicy seafood soup or crab & corn chowder.
Have also dumped a tin into a puddle of melted butter, drizzled with lemon, and gone to town as a lazy snack.

*Also a lazy snack in melted butter with lemon. But for an actual meal, does a good clam linguine fake-up; clams, pasta, butter, seasonings and garlic.

Baby Shrimp
*Pretty much only use in two things; gyoza (mash with fillings and stuff: yum!) and on salads with a lemon vinaigrette.
Have also just eaten straight out of the can, but I think we can assume that's a given with all of these things...

*Any kind is delicious in lemon juice (see a trend?), olive oil, salt, and pepper, garlic and shaved onion, served cold with avocado, sliced tomatoes, and hot white rice, with some of that lemon dressing sprinkled over everything. This is how my mother made it when I was a kid, and I rediscovered it when I grabbed a can on accident and asked her what to do.
Also, of course, any kind in tomato sauce tends to end up as a quick pasta sauce, from simple with garlic and oregano to putenesca style (if you don't have any actual tomato sauce, just add broth/stock to the contents of the can and boil down, then toss pasta in the pan to soak up juices).

*I generally avoid, but I did make pretty good fish cakes with some once.

*I also tend to avoid... But tend to have a can on hand just in case a tuna salad sandwich craving suddenly hits.

Oysters (plain, in water)
*Instant oyster stew. Heat quick rue (butter & flour) with some garlic, add oysters (with water) till hot, lower temp, add milk/cream and seasonings. I could eat myself sick off of this sometimes...

Oysters (smoked)
*I pretty much never do anything with these except eat them out of the can, sometimes with hot sauce and crackers. Definitely a guilty pleasure and lazy snack.
I once used a can to make the oyster stew above when I didn't have the regular ones; it came out pretty good, just greasier than my usual.

So. Opinions? Ideas?

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  1. I use canned clams for clams casino when I need to make a large portion (50 or so clams). I use the foil clam shells and just spoon all of my ingredients in and then bake/broil. Not truly "authentic" but a close approximation.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Philly Ray

      this sounds so easy I have to find out what clams casino is now...

      1. re: Philly Ray

        I also do this to stuff into muchroom caps.

      2. Trader Joe's has canned smoked trout in oil which is just delicious. I just eat it on a cracker with a little hummus as a fixative.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sciencediet

          I'll have to try that next time I can make it over there. TJs rarely disappoints (not never, but rarely)

        2. There are a couple of Spanish companies that sell a broad range of canned seafood that range from the ordinary to the exotic

          But be prepared to pay. A small tin of goose barnacles or Galician clams can run upward of $80.

          4 Replies
          1. re: ferret

            Cool, thanks!
            I don't think id ever be able to shell out the money for them, but I think that's another good question for opinions; speciality foods in a can, love or leave?
            escargo? pate? foie gras? are they ever worth getting?

            1. re: DreamCyn

              La tienda has some great spanish canned seafood- the bereberechos (barnacles) are beyond delicious! Also many other high quality options for less money:

              1. re: Ttrockwood

                berberechos are cockles, percebes are (goose) barnacles

          2. Oh, I forgot! I've also used sardines in a quick curry with rice, and I've read that mackerel is also good that way!

            1. The Goya canned octopus (Pulpo) is quite good (actually, all sauce varieties are good). I like it in a quick saute with summer squash, or right out of the can.

              6 Replies
              1. re: pinehurst

                I have a couple more tins of Conservas de Cambados octopus in Galician sauce - good stuff. Next week I break into a tin of their angulas (baby eels). Both are from La Tienda.
                I arranged for a sushi restaurant to serve the angulas as an appetizer, I think they will go well with sake followed by sushi.

                1. re: Veggo

                  Never ordered from LaTienda but I mean's like a wonderland, that website. Let us know how the baby eels are.

                  1. re: pinehurst

                    Thumbs up on the baby eels last night.

                    1. re: Veggo

                      Straight out of the tin or prepared???

                      1. re: DreamCyn

                        Straight out of the tin, which includes olive oil and bits of cayenne pepper. We ate them on plain crackers. They may also be good lightly sautéed to heat them up a bit, that is how both of us have had them in the past.

                2. re: pinehurst

                  I completely forgot about pulpo! I ate it all the time as a kid, and still love it drizzled in hot sauce!