Jul 14, 2011

Latas de Contrabando

Rebecca Jane has returned from traipsing through Southern Europe and she brought back a small load of Spanish Tins. My Sardine Shelf is quite full at the moment, in part from Smugglers bringing back tins from around the world. I have been hoarding precious tins and even have one or two of the newest shipment already.

So rather than stack these in with the fifty eight (58) tins I'm going to pop them all tonight. I can hardly remember where the 58 came from. Some are domestically sourced and maybe a third are smuggled in from places like Spain, France, and Turkey.
Spanish Tins
Sardinas Cuca en aceite d oliva
Albo Sardinas picantonas
El Porrón Sardinas en escabeche
Paco Lafuente Sardinas en escabeche
Paco Lafuente Sardinillas en aceite de oliva

Interesting packaging notes:
The Cuca has an interesting basic design and mentions "Sin Gluten"
Albo can be found around the States but not in Spanish. We've talked about them before once or twice.
The El Porrón is bright and eye catching with the long spouted wine flask it's named for on the box.
And the Paco Lafuentes have an interesting number system showing how many fish will be in each tin. The sardinas says 3/5 piezas and the sardinillas - 20/22 piezas.

Cuca has a strong website and blog. Check out this article. Paco Lafuente's website has beautiful tinned seafood. The others don't have a real web presence that I can find.

So Spain means another trip to the Spanish Table (such a great place) and a quick stop at the Bowl.
Spanish Accoutrements
Serrano ham, Cabra al Pimenton goat's milk cheese, morcilla de arroz (blood sausage) a little can of little olives, white anchovies, Valencianos artisanal crackers, a sixer of Estrella Galicia and a bottle of Muga Rioja rose. I'm also making up some patatas bravas.

While those cook Let's talk about escabèche
Escabeche is a typical Mediterranean cuisine which refers to both a dish of poached or fried fish (escabeche of chicken, rabbit or pork is common in Spain) that is marinated in an acidic mixture before serving, and to the marinade itself. The dish is common in Spanish, Salvadoran, Panamanian, Peruvian, Philippine, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican and Guatemalan cuisine, and popular in Catalonia, Portugal and Provence. Influences of the dish appear as far as Asia-Pacific with adjustments to local food staples. It is usually served cold after marinating in a refrigerator overnight or longer. The acid in the marinade is usually vinegar but can also include citrus juice. Escabeche is a popular presentation of canned or potted preserved fish, such as tuna, bonito or sardines. wiki
Not a common tin around these parts. I haven't had one that I remember.

All Right
Let's get to it.
Sardinas 1

Sardinas 2

Sardinas 3
So, the same order, top to bottom, as in the pic and descriptions above.

We started with the babies. The Paco Lafuente Sardinillas. At the bottom of the platter. These have a really good texture, not mushy. The oil is a bit thin and not the extra virgin We've come to expect, but a fine everyday tin if you like the little guys. Three and a half tins.
Half Tin
We followed this with the Cuca (top of the stack), staying with the olive oil before we ventured into flavors unknown. Three giants. Skin, bones, and slimy internal organs?
Eviscerate Much?
These didn't get any better from there. They were mushy and had a bad funk that demanded immediate removal from the table. The lack of evisceration might have fouled this tin. The Spanish Crackers cleansed the palate and the blood sausage made it happy again. Zero Out Of Five Tins

We then jumped on the Albo and were brought back to what makes us happy. Mild, mild heat, great texture, clean tasting oil, two years ago I gave them a bonus tin for bits and packaging, now that I've been spoiled to the glory that is (gasp) the Royal Tins of France, I don't warrant a bonus tin for such veils. It's a Three out of Five Tin tin. $3.99 here in the States. Eat it everyday!
The serrano ham tastes like it's plastic packaging.

We finally get to the escabèche.

These are interesting and different and delightful.
The fish are smoked, and then tinned with the vinegary herbal oil. The oil seems a bit thinner than usual and that's a good thing. Both tins had good texture and Screamed for rye bread, a bit of yogurt and a pinch of dill.

I'm glad We had two tins to taste and compare. The first (El Porrón - middle) , being our first escabèche lifetin, was intriguing. It gave Us a new way to think about sardines. A new flavor. How have I not found these before now?

And then We tried the Paco Lafuente.

And it was even better. Zesty, delicious.

El Porrón set the standard. Three out of Five Tins.
Paco Lafuente passed it. Four out of Five Tins.
These were not the Euro Crème de la Crème. But a fine dinner and discussion they did make.

Thanks to Rebecca Jane for risking detention and interrogation and Thanks to the 100+ Society Members for Appreciating.


Hilah said...

I'm so happy I found this site! I've recently been taste-testing sardines myself in an effort to get to like them. It worked, and now I want to try out a gorgeous platter like you've put together, too!

Heather said...

Amazing site!
I'm over in New Zealand and thus far have only been able to lay my hands on:

King Oscar's in extra virgin olive oil (very, very nice sardines)

King Oscar's in oil (again, lovely fish, although pale in comparison to the previous sardines in quality in terms of oil)

Brunswick in Louisiana Sauce, tomato sauce and in oil (yet to try these - these are the standard sardines available in local supermarkets)

Santa Maria Portugese sardines in chilli (yet to try these - these are the most expensive I have found here, around NZD $4.20 per tin)

Has anyone tried the Santa Maria variety? Or know of anywhere to purchase European sardines over this side of the world.

Amazing site - I'm often envious of the accoutrements and beers shown with the gorgeous looking fish platters!

Heather :)

Adam said...

Hi, am also in NZ - shame we have just a few brands here, maybe more than listed above rom 2011. Albo and a good range of Connetable , but none of the 5/5 tins listed here.

I work in shipping and was contacted today by someone wanting to import Latvian Sardines into NZ - anyone know what they are like ?



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