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If you haven’t heard, tinned fish is experiencing a renaissance. According to Bloomberg, canned tuna sales fell 42 percent over the past three decades, but the global market for tinned fish is now expected to reach $36.7 billion this year, up from $29.75 in 2016. And Fishwife, a new, female-led, direct-to-consumer company, is poised to capture a part of that market (especially the segment interested in cute branding and ethical sourcing).
Conceived during the pandemic, Fishwife is the brainchild of co-founders Becca Millstein and Caroline Goldfarb—who, unlike me, actually used their time in quarantine productively. During last year’s lockdown, the duo sought a solution to assembling quick, nutritious meals in between Zoom meetings, but found that most grocery store offerings were either pricey imported brands or domestic labels with opaque sourcing. Both Millstein and Goldfarb—who call themselves “tinned fish evangelists”—fell in love with conservas while living and traveling in Spain and Portugal, two countries that have preserved fish for centuries and enjoy a dining-out culture that often revolves around this elegant snack. But while it’s growing increasingly popular stateside, tinned fish hasn’t quite reached that level of appreciation here—with many of our experiences limited to mostly flavorless big-brand canned tuna. So the idea for Fishwife’s high-quality, ethically sourced tinned seafood was born.
Fishwife is dedicated to introducing Americans to the convenience, nutritional benefits, and deliciousness of shelf-stable seafood—in the most ethical way possible. The company carefully sources sustainably fished or farmed seafood, working with small-scale fishers, sustainable aquaculture farms, and microcanneries on the Pacific Coast and in Idaho. This month, the company, which already offers smoked albacore tuna and smoked salmon, launched a 100% domestically sourced smoked rainbow trout. Because I’m always looking for easy, healthy meal ideas, I was eager to try incorporating Fishwife’s latest product into my routine. Turns out that premium tinned fish is a total kitchen game-changer, serving as a highly versatile protein sprinkled on toast, flaked over salad, added to pasta, and the list goes on. Read on for four ways I added Fishwife to my menu, rating meals on a level of difficulty ranging from one (easy-peasy) to five (challenging).
Happy Hour Trout
Level of Difficulty: 1
The minute I tore into my shipment (a three-can pack sets you back $23.99), I knew that Fishwife completely understood my aesthetic. Millstein and Goldfarb leverage brightly colored packaging, playful illustrations and doodles, and cutesy cursive fonts to lend a fresh, feminine appeal to tinned seafood. (Bonus: Stickers are included!) The BPA-free tins peel back to reveal large chunks of trout brined in extra-virgin olive oil, salt, garlic, and brown sugar, then smoked in small batches over alder wood, hand-packed, and canned by a family-owned cannery in Oregon.
The fish is buttery, flaky, and succulent on its own, boasting a delicate sweetness and mild smoky flavor that doesn’t overpower. Eaten solo accompanied by a glass of wine, it’s a satisfying snack with a clean taste—perhaps a result of the fact that the fish are raised in Idaho spring water without the use of antibiotics, growth hormones, or genetic engineering and fed a sustainable, nutrient-rich diet. Little wonder that this melt-in-your-mouth smoked trout is a nutritional overachiever—rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. Best of all, it takes as much time to prepare (just crack open the can!) as opening my bag of Hot Cheetos (my go-to happy hour snack).
Smoked Trout Toast
Level of Difficulty: 2
A slice of thick-cut artisanal sourdough. Soft scrambled eggs. A little EVOO-drizzled arugula on the side. Inspired by a Bon Appetit recipe, I gave this effortless breakfast or lunch a finishing touch with Fishwife’s trout. It served to add a just-right smoky, salty, savory flavor to this otherwise rich dish, which boasted bread grilled in butter and eggs infused with crème fraîche.
Smoked Trout Salad
Level of Difficulty: 2
My sad desk salad was practically begging for Fishwife to throw it a life raft, so I used smoked trout to dress up a basic medley of arugula, red onion, cucumbers, and boiled eggs. The outcome was a considerably more delicious and interesting lunch—drizzled with a creamy yet acidic dressing of crème fraîche, dill, white wine vinegar, and honey.
Smoked Trout Potato Pancakes
Level of Difficulty: 4
Although this dish looks nothing like the Food & Wine recipe it’s designed to imitate, it was a palate-pleaser. Sauerkraut-potato pancakes were fried to a golden crisp, then layered with a dollop of crème fraîche, dill, lemon zest, and a tasty slab of trout. The hunks of glossy, oily fish offered an elegant topper for these pancakes—which I’ll be making again as an appetizer once it’s safe to host dinner parties.
After meal prepping with tinned fish for a week, I’m convinced the Spanish and Portuguese are onto something. From now on, I’ll be keeping a few Fishwife cans in my pantry—so bring on the hectic weeknight dinners!
5 More Reasons To Add Fishwife To Your Meal Plan
- What’s in a name? Everything! California-based Fishwife is a female-founded, female-led company that’s not only making sustainable seafood, but also working to reclaim the meaning of the word “fishwife.” Dating back to the 16th century, the term originally referred to the daughters and wives or fishermen, but gradually evolved into an insult for women who were deemed brash or foul-mouthed.
- According to the brand, their trout is the only 100% domestically sourced and traceable tinned variety you can find on the market right now.
- Plus, it contains a whopping 62 times less mercury than the FDA’s allowable standard!
- If you need cooking inspiration, Fishwife has a slew of easy-to-make recipes featuring their entire range—from a smoked salmon grain bowl to an elevated tuna melt.
- For more dining ideas and a behind-the-scenes peek at their process, follow Fishwife on Instagram. They recently revealed that each trout fillet is smoked for approximately two hours, guaranteeing the fish is infused with that smoky alder wood flavor.