How To Tin Fish Date Night
Words and photograph below by chef Ali Hooke, host of Tin Fish Date Night on TikTok.
The Patagonia Provisions Spanish White Anchovies were one of the first tins my husband and I used on repeat when the idea of Tin Fish Date Night was born between us. We loved them so much, every time I went grocery shopping I made sure to pick up a couple tins to have on hand so we’d never be caught without. Since then we have been able to explore the product line and discover what we love to put together, which isn’t hard, as every tin we’ve tried has been delicious. The accessibility of the tins as well as the consistent quality and variety of product flavors makes for a perfect recipe for Tin Fish Date Night.
Spanish Paprika Mackerel
This tin blew us away when we first tried it. Now, it’s not unusual for us to love tinned mackerel - the fish in particular is dense with umami flavor - but Patagonia Provision’s tin has a particularly tender flesh, paired with the smoky richness of the paprika seasoning. I love to pair pickled jalapeño slices with this fish to bring up the heat level and complement the umami flavors with a bit of acid.
If you’ve seen our TikTok content, you’ll know my husband and I can’t get enough of mussels from a can. A good quality mussel has a sweetness to its savory side that is unbeatable. Patagonia Provisions provides us with multiple options you rarely see elsewhere, as the market is almost entirely dominated by mussels in escabeche. While we love an escabeche, we also crave variety. Provisions smoked mussels has a unique smokey flavor that isn’t overpowering. I love that it provides a great base for piling on various accoutrements. The smoke flavor has a deep earthiness that I like to brighten up with some fresh sweet herbs. This could be anything that you have on hand, like cilantro, parsley, or tarragon. There isn’t an herb that doesn’t pair well with this tin.
Roasted Garlic Spanish White Anchovies
As I mentioned, this tin was on heavy rotation in our early Tin Fish Date Night days. If you love boquerones, like me, this is not a tin to pass up. The fish are preserved nicely, not falling apart, tender but chewy, and have the deep flavor of a well-marinated fish. To honor this beautiful Spanish fish we’re going traditional tapas style and pairing it with a slice of manchego atop some crispy sourdough.
Rounding Out Your Meal
It’s important to remember Tin Fish Date Night is not only an opportunity to connect over a unique activity, it’s also a full meal. It’s best to round out your board with other items to mix and match and fill you up.
These days we’re sure to include griddled sourdough bread. The hearty carb makes for a filling meal.
For the rest of the board I like to ensure I’m hitting multiple textural components as well as sweet, salty, and sour. To do this I usually pair a couple cheeses--one hard, and one soft and creamy like a brie--as well as some sweet items like fresh fruit. Grapes are a favorite as they offer a nice crunch in addition to juiciness. I also include a sweet spread like membrillo, jam or honey. Patagonia Provisions Organic Moloka’i Honey is perfect for this.
Making the Board
You can heat up your sourdough however you prefer. I can usually be found rubbing a bit of olive oil on either side of my bread slices, sprinkling one side with salt, and toasting them in a pan on medium low heat. It takes longer but provides an evenly crisped-up fried bread blasting with flavor all on its own.
When assembling the board, I try to focus on the actual physicality of consumption. Our boards can get quite large so I like to put the large bowl of bread that will serve as the base to our bites towards the back so it’s not blocking any of the low-profile items. From there I like to group similar items such as cheeses and sweets in one area, herbs and various add-ons in another corner. I put the tins of fish within easy reach toward the front so we don’t drip flavored broths and oils all over the board.
Once you have your board compiled, crack open a favorite bottle of wine - we love natural skin-contact wines with our tin fish - grab a couple napkins and some forks, and go wild. Savor the creativity of inventing bites and sharing your combinations with your partner, friends or family. This moment is the best part of Tin Fish Date Night.
Most importantly, enjoy!