Whether you’ve been hanging out with your paleo-obsessed climbing buddies or your foodie friends, you’ve probably seen them do something surprising: crack open a tin of canned sardines, anchovies, or mackerel. Four-hour guru Tim Ferriss extolled the virtues of doing so on the Freakonomics podcast (“I will literally buy cases of sardines,” he said), and Wild Planet, which sells sustainable fish in cans, has seen sales rise 28 percent in the past year. What’s going on here? Thanks for asking.
1. They're Good for You
Sardines in olive oil deliver an Olympic-size punch of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and monounsaturated fat, with virtually no carbs.
2. They're Easier on the Environment
Wild Planet cooks its fish in large batches during the canning process—it’s ultra-efficient protein production. And because sardines and anchovies are low on the food chain, they accumulate fewer heavy metals.
3. They Taste Incredible
When canned in oil, the flavor of fish improves—especially if it’s allowed to age. “It’s almost like a wine, where people are buying based on the vintage,” says Kathy Sidell, who recently opened Saltie Girl, a tinned-fish bar, in Boston.
Here are three types of seafood that take particularly well to canning.
Oysters, Mussels, and Clams
Try Ramón Peña’s pickled mussels or Ekone Oyster Company’s smoked oysters—you’ll get more than 16 grams of protein, plus vita-min C, zinc, and iron.
One serving provides well over your daily dose of vitamin B12, two-thirds of your vitamin D, and roughly 25 grams of protein. Try José Gourmet’s spiced sardines with zesty chili oil.
Squid and Octopus
Get them packed in squid ink sauce from Ramón Peña or in a spicy tomato paste from José Gourmet. Both species give you phosphorous, magnesium, and zinc.