It takes only one good encounter with canned seafood to fall in love. My grandfather initiated me with weekend sandwiches of shimmering King Oscar sardines arranged in a neat row atop salty, butter-slicked whole-wheat bread. Like odd smells and cash in strange denominations, the humble sandwich was a staple of the few years we had together.
For centuries, even millennia, preserved seafood, mostly salted and dried, was a linchpin of human survival. It’s how Nordic tribes endured lengthy sea voyages. It sustained their European counterparts on similar trips hundreds of years later. Yet
This North Miami Beach Asian market (316 NE 167th St.; 305-945-1188) is one of the newer ones in the area. It’s a bright space, with nice high ceilings. Most around Miami are dingy, musty, low-ceilinged affairs. Here, you’ll want to pick up a can of vegetarian mock abalone ($1.89). The bivalve that lives inside a mother-of-pearl-lined shell is a prized ingredient in Asia, but you can get something similar without the cost or the meat. The chief ingredients are wheat flour, soy sauce, salt, and sugar — relatively innocuous. Give them a good, hard stir-fry for a bit of char before hitting them with some oyster sauce and scallions.
For the more adventuresome, the safest and most flavorful bet is the suspicious-sounding roast fish chili ($2.19). The fish is
The arrival of this West Coast packaged-foods mecca in South Florida has caused a frenzy as each new store has opened. As you fill your cart with frozen dumplings and some bottles from the fine selection of wines, don’t gloss over the little flat tins. The delicate smoked trout ($3.49) stands beautifully on its own. It also goes well mashed with some aioli for a briny bagel shmear whenever you're in a bind.
Sardines ($1.49) packed in olive oil or water are a fine addition to any pantry. Smoked oysters ($2.69) are meaty and can stand on their own. If you’re squeamish, mash them with some cream cheese, milk, diced onion, and Worcestershire sauce for an addictive dip. Put it out for guests, and don’t tell them what it is until after the fact.
Sure, you’ve long relied on Marky’s on 79th Street for your Ibérico ham, $20-per-pound butter, and hundreds of dollars' worth of Osetra caviar. But it’s also a great place to buy canned seafood. Go for a
Next grab a can of French Helix snails ($8). Rinse them, load them into a cupcake pan with compound butter (garlic, thyme, and chervil work best), and sprinkle with unseasoned breadcrumbs. Top with a few flakes of Maldon salt and dive in.
Your other standby is
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Delicias de España
Few nations love their canned seafood like Spain. And few have as pristine — and pricey — choices. If you're looking to get into the canned seafood game, a stop at Spanish market is a must. Start with Bird Road's Delicias de España II — first, because you can prostrate yourself upon their holy
Pick up a can of meaty Daporta razor clams ($13). They work just as well as the cockles from Marky’s on some tomato-rubbed bread. Alternatively, you can quickly stir-fry them with olive oil, parsley, red chili, and white wine for a fine appetizer. Next, try a can of the belly tuna. Sure, it costs $12.95, but one bite of the supple,