Column: Not your mother’s canned seafood


Commentary by Mark LaFay

Canned seafood.  When you hear that, what comes to mind? If you are like me, you think about canned tuna, maybe anchovy flats in soybean oil or smoked oysters. Did you know there is a world of canned seafood that is more than fodder for mom’s tuna salad?

Portugal and the Mediterranean coast of Spain are home to some of the world’s most refined tinned seafood called conservas.  Let’s be honest, “conservas” sounds better than canned sea food, so we will go with that.

The next time you entertain with some charcuterie, consider a couple nice conservas to bring some variety to your spread. One fantastic producer of conservas is Jose Gourmet. Jose Gourmet works with Portuguese fishermen who source seafood sustainably and process and pack the finished product.

JG Spiced Octopus in Olive Oil would be a great addition to your charcuterie board. This conserva is chunks of octopus caught in the Atlantic Ocean and delightfully tender. It is packed in olive oil with piri piri peppers, a popular pepper from South Africa. Serve on crostini, or flatbread crackers w/ spicy mustard or curried mustard. Add in pickled shallot or cornichon for some additional acidity.

JG Spiced Calamari in Ragout Sauce is another great option. These bits are much larger and sliced so you can get smaller bites. The squid is tender and delicate, the flavor is phenomenal! It’s combined with tomato pulp stewed and spiced with pepper, clove onion, and red wine. The bits go great on toast with soft spreadable cheese like Boursin, or a Tulip Tree Fromage Frais. You could even pair with thin slices of Grana Padano or aged Parmesan.

Surprise your guests, or yourself. Try these two items with your next charcuterie spread. You will find that you are standing at the top of the rabbit hole. The question is, will you find how deep it goes?