In an ordinary hour, at the Fide tapas bar in Madrid, customers enjoy the best vermouth and seafood you can buy: pearly white mussels, large Galician mussels and sweet little shells that can be balanced on a pinhead, all served straight out of the box.

True regulars know that canned pescados (canned seafood) can be fantastic, even better than fresh ones. Remember your first taste of a great wine when you thought: Is that what I missed? After a lifetime of soaked sardines and tuna, we discover Cantabrian anchovies or white tuna in butter in olive oil.

A can handle spaghetti all vongole, mussels and seafood risotto.

In recent years, canned foods have appeared on restaurant menus in the United States, from Saltie Girl in Boston to Cata Vino in Detroit and Verjus in San Francisco.

Alex Ridge,

Co-owner of Thikito, La Vara and

St. John’s Julivert

in New York City, was one of the first heads of state to pay tribute to the Conservatives. I’ve always been fascinated by them, because they can improve the taste, for example. B. Anchovies, and can even change the texture, like. B. by shifting the mussels from hard to soft, she says.

A closet full of fish on the shelves of the house is never a bad idea, especially if you go to the supermarket less often. Spaghetti alle vongole, clam chowder and seafood risotto can all be prepared from a jar of cockles – without cleaning, steaming or peeling.

At night, when the kitchen is tempting, like a nasopharyngeal tampon, there are cans in one. Open the La Brujula mussels in Escabeche or the braised salted cod from Donostia, both of which are a delight, with a fruity Spanish red wine and a baguette to go with the pasta.

The Spanish neighbours soon point out that they too build excellent conservatories, and it’s true. But Spain is in a class of its own when it comes to canned seafood. Last year, the country transported 373,653 tons worth more than $1.8 billion, about the weight of the Empire State Building. Only Thailand produces more canned fish.

Seafood conservation practices have existed in Spain for centuries. The Romans built large factories here to process salted fish into garum, the ketchup of the Roman Empire. Later, the Moors probably brought escabeche, meat and seafood marinated in spicy vinegar.

In addition to generating know-how, Spain has clear geographical advantages. The Atlantic and Mediterranean ports offer access to a large number of hot and cold waters. The most expensive canned mussels in Spain come from the northwestern region of Galicia, where female mussel diggers, known as mariscadores, charge more than $100 a pot. Galician mussels have an exceptional flavour and texture due to the climate, he said.

Paula Murenza,

A guide for Culinary Backstreets, who organizes guided tours through the seafood area. She explained that upwelling is a cold, nutrient-rich underground current that originates in the depths of the Arctic along the Galician coast and allows mussels to be happily and well fed.

The proper handling of seafood is just as important as its origin, according to

Keko Alfonso.

Cambados Conservatorio, a small, family-run business in Galicia, which salts and ferments anchovies or marinates whole tuna. In the case of mussels, the speciality of Kambados, the pots of canned mussels must be packed by hand, one by one, immediately after harvesting, he says. These creatures are half sandy, so you have to clean them carefully. It’s slow. Sprinkled with salt water and hermetically sealed at the source, cambados are the epitome of sweetness.

Back at La Fide, the silver-haired bartender opens a fluffy glass. They sparkle in tight rows, like pearls in a jewel box. Their sweet, brackish scent hangs in the air like a sea breeze from a time capsule – a reminder that behind every box of fish hides a landscape, a story and human hands.


The incomparable Iberian conservatories


F. Martin Ramin/Wall Street Journal

Greenhouses Kambados Zambouriniaz

The purple mussel thrives in the cool estuaries of Galicia in the northwest of Spain. Its softness goes well with local satin whites such as Godello and Ribeiro. These zamburines are smothered in a heady tomato and wine sauce. Heat the contents of the pot and spoon over the plain white rice for a soft meal. 13 for 4 ounces,


F. Martin Ramin/Wall Street Journal

Greenhouses Kambadas Berberejos

Fresh hulls can be painful: little meat and a lot of sand. This is not the case with the echoes of the Cambodian mountains, which are natural, immense and fortunately without gravel. Taste them directly from the fridge with a lemon rind and don’t forget to keep the brine: Makes a murdering dirty martini. $40 for four ounces,


F. Martin Ramin/Wall Street Journal

La Brujula Spanish Mussels in escabeche

Only the most fleshy and immaculate Galician mussels come into this pot with lightly grilled masons swimming in a chili vinaigrette. For a well-brewed tapa, place the mussels on potato chips and salt them. $13 for 3.9 ounces,


F. Martin Ramin/Wall Street Journal

Donostia Foods Cod in Biscayan sauce

Salsa vizcaína is a classic Basque dish made with peppers and choricero onions. This interpretation, and the tender cod in it, is so incredibly homemade that you could serve it to a Spanish grandmother and she wouldn’t be fooled. For what you get here, the price tag reads like a typo. $6 for 4.5 ounces,


F. Martin Ramin/Wall Street Journal

Donostia Food Cantabrian Anchovies in Olive Oil

Forget the soft, brittle, too salty anchovies from bad Caesar salads and the worst pizza. Donostia anchovy is a real anchovy fished in the wild off the coast of Cantabria and marinated in salt for six months. Try spreading them on tomatoes, the classic Catalan bread rubbed with tomatoes and garlic. Or fry a few fillets with garlic, breadcrumbs and lemon rind for a quick pasta. And always, always keep anchovies in the fridge. 10 for 3.17 ounces,


F. Martin Ramin/Wall Street Journal

Don Bockart.

Bonito Ventresca.

The Cantabrian canning factory Don Bocarte may be famous for its anchovies, but the Bonito del Norte (northern albacore tuna) is a real success while sleeping. With its marbled finish reminiscent of Iberian ham and its melting texture, this buttery belly is the most luxurious canned tuna we have ever tasted. 47 for 6.7 ounces,

Any Bonito del Norte (Spanish Albacore) or other high quality tuna in oil can replace the belly, although the result is not so decadent.

Benjamin Kemper for the Wall Street Journal.


  • 2 pounds red peppers, washed and dried
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil separately
  • 5 cloves of garlic, split
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 can of white tuna (ventresca de bonito del norte) oiled, e.g. B. of the brand Don Bocarte or La Cala, drained.
  • ¼ red onion, thinly sliced.
  • 1 tablespoon parsley leaves
  • A flaky salt that tastes like


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cooking frame with aluminium foil rim. Place the peppers on a baking tray and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of oil. Massage the oil over the pepper. Cook the peppers with forceps every 15 minutes until they turn black (1 hour).
  2. Place the roasted peppers in a medium sized bowl and cover firmly with plastic foil to peel off the skin. When they are cold enough, use your fingers to remove stems, skin and seeds. Keep the liquid at the bottom of the bowl. (Don’t worry if the peppers tear or if there are some seeds and pieces of skin left). Lay the peeled parts flat on a cutting board and cut them lengthwise into strips half an inch wide.
  3. Mix the garlic and 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat.  Cook until the garlic is soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the pepper and the liqueur, sugar and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 12 minutes. Stir in the sherry vinegar.
  4. Put pepper on a plate. Put the tuna on top and sprinkle the peppers. Sprinkle with red onion, parsley, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt.

This recipe comes from La Vara, a New York restaurant that celebrates the Jewish and Moorish roots of Spanish cuisine. The dish combines top quality Cantabrian anchovies with alcohol, a mixture of Egyptian spices based on walnuts. Mix some scraps of butter with warm capellini and more anchovies, or spread it on a roasted English muffin with honey and a spoonful of caviar, if you’re lucky. Lemons can be found in supermarkets in the Middle East and in many specialty stores. If you cannot find them, the lemon rind can be replaced in an equivalent way.

Benjamin Kemper for the Wall Street Journal.


  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons dukkah, homemade or bought in the shop
  • 1½ grated teaspoons of candied lemon peel, washed and dried
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 12 anchovies, preferably from Cantabria, packed in oil, e.g. B. of the brand Donostia, at room temperature.
  • Slices of crispy bread and extra virgin olive oil to serve


  1. In a medium bowl, mix butter, dukkah, lemon rind and lemon juice until well mixed. Place the butter mixture on a square parchment paper. Place another square parchment on top and press the butter into the brick or cylinder. Cool for at least 45 minutes until completely frozen, or keep in the fridge for up to a week.
  2. Remove the parchment and cut the butter into pieces or sticks. Place slices of butter on one side of a large plate and drizzle with olive oil. Spread the anchovies next to the butter. Serve with bread and let the guests make their own canapés with butter and anchovies.

-Customized by Alex Raya de La Vara, Thikito and St. John’s. -Customized by Alex Raya de La Vara, Thikito and St. John’s. Julivert, NY.

To discover and find all our recipes, visit our new WSJ recipes page.

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