Tinned fish is a nutritious store cupboard staple, perfect for adding to salads, pasta and rice dishes or enjoying with crusty bread. But how should you decide which tinned fish to buy? And is tinned fish as healthy as fresh fish? Read our buyer’s guide to discover everything you need to know about the best tinned fish.
What is tinned fish?
Tinning is a traditional way of preserving fish. Fish is canned in water or oil and salt, then sealed in an airtight container. Tinning extends the shelf life of fish, and the compact shape of a tin makes it a practical ingredient for transporting.
Why should I buy tinned fish?
There are a number of reasons you might choose tinned fish over fresh fish. The fish that are typically tinned, such as sardines and mackerel have large wild populations, meaning they are less likely to be overfished.
Until it’s opened, tinned fish isn’t a perishable product - you can keep the tin for years and the fish inside will still be delicious and perfectly safe to eat. and delicious. This also makes tinned fish a practical ingredient to take on camping trips or picnics; tins are lightweight and can be easily stored without the need for refrigeration.
Which is the best tinned fish to buy?
These are a few of our most-loved tinned fish brands.
Spanish seafood experts Ortiz carefully select the best locations during fishing season to catch yellowfin tuna. They only fish at a specific point in the season when the tuna weigh 30kg or under, in order to obtain the most tender fillets.
Catrineta sources the finest Galician fish and seafood, then prepares and packs each product by hand using traditional methods - the beautiful, highly decorative packaging also makes this the best tinned fish for gifting! You will want to show off these tins on the shelf.
Italian brand Recca has been hand preparing, preserving and tinning fish using traditional methods that have barely changed for 100 years. A fourth generation Sicilian business, their reputation is founded on time-honoured techniques and expertise.
The best tinned fish to buy:
Easily recognisable by their stylish bright yellow, red and blue packaging, Ortiz anchovies may well be Europe's favourite. The melt-in-the-mouth fillets are rich and smooth - perfect for serving as canapés with olives, adding to salads or simply enjoying with butter and toasted bread.
Ortiz's bonito, or white tuna, are individually line caught with live bait or fly during the coastal fishing season. This age-old technique of selective fishing avoids catching unwanted, respecting the environment and protecting marine reserves.
The fillets are cut from the juiciest part of the bonito tuna, meaning they have a rich flavour and an exquisite, silky texture.
Ortiz selects the freshest sardines from auctions on the north coast of Spain, before carefully cleaning and preparing them by hand. The sardines are quickly fried in virgin olive oil, before they’re tinned with olive oil and a little salt. Try this simple serving idea: lightly toasted crusty bread before rubbing with a cut garlic clove. Top with crushed tomatoes and a single sardine. Heavenly! garlic-rubbed,
Ortiz carefully selects the prime locations each fishing season to catch their yellowfin tuna, ensuring tender fillets by selecting only tuna at their optimum weight. This is some of the best tinned tuna on the market; large, meaty flakes have a luxurious, silky texture and make a spectacular salad nicoise, sandwich or puttanesca.
Recca anchovy fillets are tender yet meaty, with an intense saltiness that boost pasta sauces and salad dressings (use them to take your Caesar salad to the next level) Alternatively, enjoy the anchovy fillets straight from the tin, draped over fresh bread with butter and a squeeze of lemon.
Catrineta smoked sardines have a beautiful wood smokeflavour and a richness from the olive oil they’re preserved with. Enjoy these sardines straight from the tin, grill and serve with a squeeze of lemon, or fry with garlic and toss through spaghetti for a simple dinner.
These Galician mussels are packed in a classic escabeche sauce, made with paprika, vinegar, oil, garlic and bay leaves. Serve them with crusty bread and olive oil, or use them to make a seafood pasta sauce or rice dish with prawns and plenty of freshly chopped parsley.
Razor clams in brine are a real Spanish treat, and make a luxurious addition to any tapas spread. Serve the tender, meaty pieces of clam tossed through a warm seafood salad with tomatoes, broad beans, black olives and sizzled chorizo.
Frequently Asked Questions
What fish can be tinned?
Which canned fish is healthy?
The nutritional value of fresh fish and tinned fish is very similar, so generally speaking, canned fish is a fantastic source of protein. Oilier fish such as mackerel and sardines are also high in Omega-3 fats.
The only difference may be the sodium levels, as tinned fish is typically preserved with salt, however this doesn't make tinned fish unhealthy - as with all things, it’s best eaten in moderation.
Shop all tinned fish, and try our best fish and seafood recipes here.
Ellie Edwards is a food writer for Sous Chef. Previously she worked at olive magazine, writing about exciting new ingredients, UK restaurants and travelling the world to find the best cinnamon buns. When she's not exploring the likes of Belize, Kerala and Zanzibar, Ellie loves rustling up a feast in her London kitchen, with a particular passion for porridge, sourdough and negronis.