Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - Scary, but yummy fish products




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kaplods
01-24-2009, 09:43 PM
I'm always on the lookout for lower carb foods, and hubby and I stopped at one of our local asian groceries the other day, and I made a discovery that delighted, yet frightened me - a large selection of canned and dried fish products.

I've bought "prepared squid" before (think pink, shredded jerky with a little fish smell, but not really all that fishy tasting). I really like it (but it is a bit chewy). Some brands add sugar, so I always have to check for that.

They also had smoked eel, which I've had before (it's in a sardine can, shaped tin), but usually is packed in a sweetened soy sauce (yummy, but again too high in carbs because of the added sugar).

And then I found "Smiling Fish" brand sardines and mackerel imported from Thailand in different sauces (I chose sardines in chili sauce, sardines in Kurma Curry and mackerel in green cury). The chili sauce I won't buy too often, because I didn't read the label, and it has a bit more sugar in it than I'd like. But my, these are really good, and I can't wait to try all of the other flavors, and maybe try some other scary fish products.

I have to say the can intimidated me, because instead of a flat sardine tin, they're packed in small cans about the size of a tomato paste can, with a pulltab top. The sardines are packed in tight (like sardines, I suppose) and so it's hard to get them out of the can without breaking them up. All in all, the odd can, the broken bits of fish in a thick sauce, I was a bit hesitant to try them. I'm so glad I tried them though, because they're so good (if you like sardines). And each can has 20% RDA of calcium (about the same as a carton of yogurt).

Oh and they were only 99 cents per can for nearly a 6 oz portion.


tommy
01-24-2009, 10:00 PM
I picked up a few similar products at Big Lots recently thinking I would try something new and increase my Omega 3's. I will report back once I open them. I don;t mind the smell but I dread other's reactions.

kaplods
01-24-2009, 10:21 PM
LOL, I know what you mean. My hubby and I have a deal, that I only eat "fish jerky" or canned fish (other than crab, salmon or tuna) when he's not in the house. Tonight he's out with the guys, so I could eat my sardines in peace.

Every once in a while, I'll break our agreement, and he razzes me about it for the rest of the day. Of course, I tease him back by pretending I'm going to kiss him with fish breath.


BlueToBlue
01-26-2009, 03:05 AM
I :love: canned fish--sardines, trout, anchovies, herring, whatever comes in a can and smells bad--and those sound awesome. I'm definitely going to have to check out my local Asian supermarket. I would love to find smoked eel (I don't care about the carbs).

kaplods
01-26-2009, 05:01 AM
Smoked oysters are probably my all-time favorite canned seafood. I love the three distinct textures of each oyster - the frilly outer edge that's chewy, the soft body that's almost a creamy texture like soft cooked liver, and the little core that's firmer like cooked fish or even almost like meat. Mmm nummy!

I definitely will probably get the smoked eel on a future trip, because I'm not dieting so low carb that I really have to worry about the little bit that would be in the seasoning, but it was justification to help me narrow down my choices.

I didn't even look too deeply into all of my options (I have a selection problem when I have too many choices).

I've been on the lookout for an asian snack mix that a friend gave me as a bit of a joke and introduction to asian markets several years ago. It was mainly small rice crackers, seasoned and decorated with various seasonings such as fish sauce, soy, nori, sesame, etc. and tiny little whole preserved fish, much tinier than your average minnow. The crazy part was the rice crackers tasted like fish, but the little fish tasted and felt like hard bits of candy.

I love jarred fish too. Haven't tried gefilte fish, that just creeps me out. It looks like mud balls to me. But I love this carp caviar spread called taramosalata. It's a greek think that's salted carp roe mixed into a cream, sour cream or mayonaisse base. Absolutely heaven.

LindseyLouWho
01-26-2009, 10:33 PM
I love taramosalata too. I was actually surprised to learn that traditionally there are no creamy products mixed into it... it's actually just the caviar, bread crumbs, lemon juice, olive oil and maybe some salt or other seasonings. I've yet to try making it myself, though.

ohmanda
01-27-2009, 01:05 AM
What do sardines taste like? Are they really fishy? I kinda want to try them, but I am a little scared. I had anchovies once, and they were nasty. I do like seafood though. Most of it, at least.

kaplods
01-27-2009, 02:00 PM
Anchovies are CRAZY salty, and I like them, but only as a seasoning, not by themselves. Even on a pizza I don't want them in little slabs of fishy saltiness, I like them either cooked into the sauce (yummiest) or crumbled and sprinkled on the pizza (on top of the sauce being better than crumbled on top of the cheese).

As for sardines, yes they are rather fishy, but not nearly as fishy as anchovies. Some brands are saltier than others, and I prefer them less salty, so I always just check the sodium count and buy brands that are on the lower side of the spectrum. I would say sardines aren't much stronger than tuna, so if you like canned tuna and canned salmon, there's a good chance you'll like sardines, canned mackerel and other canned fish. Of all the lot, it sounds weirdest to Americans, because few of us have eaten much if any eel, but eel is the mildest. Eel is very sweet and unfishlike, so it's kind of weird at first, because it feels like fish in your mouth, but doesn't taste like fish (I won't say it tastes like chicken, because everyone always says "tastes like chicken" but it's very mild).

WaterRat
01-27-2009, 08:54 PM
Haven't tried gefilte fish, that just creeps me out. It looks like mud balls to me.

To me it tastes like mud balls too! :rofl: As a teenager I used to babysit for a family who always had gefilte fish in the fridge, the kids loved it. Me - not so much.

MISFIT
01-28-2009, 03:38 PM
Mmm. I love sardines.. I used to have sardine sandwiches, which is basically just sardines on bread

lizziep
01-29-2009, 02:03 AM
the one that always scared me was lutefisk. family tradition that i'll gladly let drop out of my family thank you very much.

ohmanda
01-29-2009, 03:16 AM
I like eel, I've had it in sushi. I think maybe I will try sardines.
Lutefisk sounds terrible. My mom said she had to eat it when she was a kid because her dad was very norwegian. I think that is one thing I will never try.

ohmanda
01-29-2009, 03:17 AM
Oh yeah, do you eat the whole sardine? Is it a whole fish?

kaplods
01-29-2009, 01:36 PM
When I've bought canned sardines, they've been either whole (no heads) or cut in "steaks." Usually the bones are still in the fish (although you can buy boneless fillets also, although they're more expensive). When I was a kid, I'd always remove the spine, and only eat the meat, but now I eat the bones (that's where all the calcium is).

I know it might sound creepy to eat the bones, but they're very soft, they sort of crumble when you bite them. If you eat the bones, one serving has as much calcium as a carton of yogurt, and nearly as much as a glass of milk. I once read that the calcium in canned fish bones is easier for the body to use, or the body uses more of the calcium than in milk. I don't know if it's true, but since I'm not always good about eating/drinking the dairy products (I take calcium supplements just in case), it's a nice thought.

I also love smelt. It's a regional thing, but they're very small fish (about sardine size, heck they might even be the same kind of fish. I once read that over 20 species of fish could be called sardines, and some fish are "sardines" only when they're young and small, and are called something else when they are older and larger.) Anyway, smelt are sardined size fish, that are usually sold frozen (headless and cleaned, but again still with the bones and tail intact). Generally, they're thawed, then battered and fried, and you eat the whole fish, bones and all. They are a bit "muddy tasting," sort of reminiscent of catfish, though I believe they're actually related to salmon. Darn it, now I've got a hankering for fried smelt. There's a restaurant in town that serves smelt every friday, and it's so popular they usually run out early. I think one of the reasons it's so popular, is that it's sort of a nostalgic food in the midwest. Smelt were the cheapest fish at one time (they're still pretty darned cheap) and so they were "poor food," so a lot of folks have nostalgic memories of eating smelt during tough times. I'm a generation past the need to buy smelt, so my nostalgia really is about the stories my dad told when he was making smelt than about experiencing them first hand, but they sure are tasty little buggers (although deep fry anything, and you end up with something pretty tasty).

Tomato
01-29-2009, 04:06 PM
I like sardines, too and I eat the bones as well. Very good source of calcium. If the bones bother you you can mash the sardines with perhaps Laughing Cow cheese into a spread. Maybe a bit of mustard for extra taste. My mom used to add grated cooked potato (to add volume) but of course I don't do that.

ohmanda
01-30-2009, 12:18 AM
I remember eating fried smelt when I was younger. I think I liked it, but I haven't had it in years.

archychick
01-30-2009, 02:12 PM
I love taramosalata too. I was actually surprised to learn that traditionally there are no creamy products mixed into it... it's actually just the caviar, bread crumbs, lemon juice, olive oil and maybe some salt or other seasonings. I've yet to try making it myself, though.

Oooh I LOVE this - I lived on this when I was in Greece years ago! I completely forgot about it, so thank you for reminding me. I need some new things for my repertoire. :)

I love herring in wine sauce, smoked oysters and anchovies. These things are fine on a healthy diet when used as condiments - lightly IF you can resist the urge to dive into the can/jar. lol

kittycat40
02-02-2009, 02:32 PM
I love herring in wine sauce, smoked oysters and anchovies. These things are fine on a healthy diet when used as condiments - lightly IF you can resist the urge to dive into the can/jar. lol

I eat herring on wine sauce as a meal item. A bit of sodium and some sugar but all in all low calories and a lower carb type food (for me anyway).

My sitter is Thai and she has given me these packets of fish strips made by a company called taro. The first bag was purchased in a NJ Asian market. The second, sent to her by her mother-- as a gift for me :)

kaplods
02-08-2009, 12:55 AM
Yesterday I had fried smelt for lunch (and the leftovers I split with my husband for dinner). So yummy, and they were really small so they tasted really good (only a bit "muddy" like cat fish, if they get too big, the can be mutch muddier and fishier).

I must have still been craving fish, because I just had the sardines in Kurma curry for a late snack (I had protein exchanges and a few fat exchanges left). It was REALLY strange, because the curry sauce overpowered the sardines. I felt like maybe I should have heated them up and served them over rice. It must have smelled good to our old cat, because she was begging for a taste (she's a carb addict and her very favorite food is potato chips, well corn chips - bugles actually). We've cut back on her carbs drastically though, because the vet says it's the carbohydrates causing her, uh stinkiness problem (she gets gassy, but even when she uses the litter box for doodie, you can smell the doodie all over the apartment for about 10 minutes). When I was done with the plate, I wiped some of the sauce off the sardine remnants, and moved them to the edge of the plate and offered ChubChub some - and instead of going for the clean sardine - she went straight for the curry sauce. I had to pull the plate away, because I'm not sure curry is good for cats (and it can't be good for her odor issue).

I have only one can of weird fish left and it's "fried mackerel in green curry." Mackerel can be stronger than sardines, so I'm a bit more intimidated by it than the other two. On payday (Feb 18), I think I'm going to get some different varieties and maybe the smoked eel, since I love it so.

Nori71
02-08-2009, 09:37 AM
Mackerel can be stronger than sardines, so I'm a bit more intimidated by it than the other two.
Is it the consistancy of chunked tuna? I was so addicted to canned mackerel in tomato juice when I lived in Denmark! Oh my, that was good and this thread brought back memories.

kaplods
02-08-2009, 11:31 AM
I'm not sure. I haven't tried it yet, but I'm assuming the texture to be very similar to the fried sardines in curry. If so, it's not quite the same texture as canned tuna, it's a bit drier. The fish are apparently flash fried (no batter) and then canned in the sauce. The flash frying doesn't seem to add fat or flavor, so I'm thinking it's done actually to remove some of the fat, at least from the skin, but as a result the fish meat is a bit less moist than what I'm used to in canned fish. You know how if you overcook chicken or beef in a sauce or soup how it has a drier texture even though it's floating in sauce or broth - that's what the texture of the sardines reminded me of.

I'm still getting used to the new fact that I love fish. Hubby says it's because I'm discovering "good fish" in WI, and I have to admit that he is right. In central IL, where I was raised fish dishes in restaurants were very often a gamble, and usually pan or deep fried were the safest choices. They were also something you "had to eat" during Lent, not something you generally chose very often the rest of the year. Here in WI, any restaurant that doesn't have a friday fish fry (and by that, that means at least one fried and one broiled or grilled fish dish also) doesn't stay in business very long. Even the mexican and chinese restaurants have to have the obligatory friday fish.

I remember being a fairly small kid and wanting canned mackerel because I liked the picture on the can, and had seen my grandpa eating it out of a can. I tried to put it in the grocery cart, and my mom put it back and told me how "awful" that stuff was (she couldn't stanned canned salmon or canned mackerel because she had eaten it "all the time" when she was a kid because her parents didn't have a lot of money and canned fish was cheap).

It wasn't until I was in college that I tried canned mackerel for the first time. At the time it was under a $1 for a large can (12 to 16 oz), so it fit into the starving student's budget. I liked it, but it was definitely more the texture and taste of sardines in a can to me, only more so. I remember removing most of the skin because it was too oily for me. I ate it a lot in college, though not enough to really get sick of it (at least not as sick of it as I was of ramen noodles), I just stopped buying it when I had money.

Nori71
02-08-2009, 06:38 PM
Speaking of fried fish, DH is visiting his family in Alabama for a few days and he told me this morning that he ate 6 pieces of fried catfish last night. OMG! He's generally a healthy eater and avoids fried foods, but you know how it is when you "go home" and get something you haven't eaten in awhile and that tastes good!

I guess we are blessed here in the Pacific Northwest (seattle area) with great seafood markets and fab seafood restaurants as well. We eat salmon as well as another variety of fish (usually tilapia or halibut) nearly every week.

zenor77
02-08-2009, 06:58 PM
Mmm. I love sardines.. I used to have sardine sandwiches, which is basically just sardines on bread

I love sardine sandwiches! I make them almost the same as my Grandfather did. Good rye bread, mustard, red onion slices, and the tiny Norwegian canned sardines (my Grandfather used butter instead of mustard.) Yum! I also love to eat the sardines that come in tomato sauce on crackers.

Pickled herring is really yummy too.

The only canned fish I don't care for is mackerel and I love mackerel usually. I wonder if I just bought a bad brand or something?

saef
02-08-2009, 07:45 PM
I love sardines laid out on an Ak-Mak cracker, and I particularly love a squirt of spicy brown mustard on top of them.

One of Jane Brody's cookbooks has a recipe for sardines & broccoli salad & a sort of Asian-influenced dressing over it (I substitute Splenda for the sugar) that I haven't had in a while. Now I'm thinking it's time to make it again, once broccoli goes on sale.

I've never tried mackerel, but now I'm going to.

tommy
02-08-2009, 09:36 PM
Would love to have a description of that sardine and broccoli salad recipe. My problem is eating these items without something like bread or rice which I keep to a minimum.

kaplods
02-26-2009, 09:49 PM
I found a new oriental grocery in town, recommended to us by the owners of a small thai restaurant we love. They told us which store carried the freshest produce and had the best prices. It's in a little strip mall in the middle of a residential area. You'd never find it if you didn't know it was there.

Anyway I found some more adventures in fish products. A can of "fried baby clams with chilli" - really good, but not in a chile sauce as I thought, but with a chili pepper seasoning. The clams were very chewy, and extremely HOT, sort of like sweet, hot, slightly salty, slightly fishy bublegum. I put what I didn't finish in a container for the fridge. They're pretty hot, even for me, so I spread a couple crackers with cream cheese and topped each with three clams (eating them this way, it will take me three days to finish).

I also got three more Smiling Fish products Musaman Curry Fried Sardines, Fried Mackerel in Chilli sauce, and Red Curry Fried Sardines.


I also found an online store, to show you what they look like (I've never bought anything like these online, so I'm not recommending or endorsing the site).

https://www.hcfoods.net/shop/index.php/manufacturers_id/54

midwife
02-26-2009, 10:03 PM
Those clams sound delish, Colleen! I may have to venture out to our local Asian markets....

saef
02-26-2009, 11:03 PM
Tommy, basically the recipe is like this:

bunch broccoli, cut in bite-size pieces
1 tin sardines
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. oil from tinned sardines (if water-packed, use olive oil -- sesame oil is also good)
1 tbsp. sugar (I substitute Splenda)
1/4 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, crushed

Steam the broccoli till it's as toothsome as you like it. Meanwhile, combine soy sauce, oil, sugar, pepper flakes & garlic in a small bowl. Dump broccoli into the bowl, break up sardines into same bowl, add dressing and toss. Serve hot or cold.

tommy
02-27-2009, 07:09 PM
Thank you. I think I would add some onion and cucumber in there and maybe even something sweet like craisins or a little chopped apple, plus some lemon juice or vinegar.

Thighs Be Gone
02-27-2009, 07:34 PM
We have several Asian stores here and even on fresh fish, the prices are amazing. I regularly buy herbs and spices (huge bundles are .69) and whole fresh coconut ($1.). Are you concerned at all about the fact most of those items you are speaking of are imports from China?

kaplods
02-27-2009, 10:51 PM
Actually none of the products I mentioned are imported from China. I'm not sure I've ever bought or seen items from China. Most of the imports in our asian stores (like most of the parents and grandparents in our asian community) are from Southeast Asia, not China.

The Smiling Fish products I've talked about are all from Thailand.

Imports are also fairly strongly regulated, so I'm generally not too concerned Many of the products in ethnic groceries, even the "asian" and other "ethnic" products are actually made in the USA, often by big name manufacturers who may have different brand names in different countries (Maggi Products are owned by Nestle, for example). I bought nori snacks and shrimp crackers recently, and was astonished that they were made in a company in California.

I know that most of the produce in our local stores are locally grown (or grown fairly close), except for those that cannot be grown in the USA, and that fruit imports are strongly regulated.

Thighs Be Gone
02-28-2009, 07:23 PM
In our Asian stores most of packaged products are from China that I have bothered to look at anyway. In fact, Fresh fish are generally from China as well there.

I just looked at the items I have in my pantry from the store--fish sauce and coconut milk. They both say "Product of China." It could just be my source. I will check another store to compare.

kaplods
02-28-2009, 08:48 PM
Now that you mention it, I have seen chinese fish sauce in the store, but I always buy Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce. It wasn't a boycott or fear of chinese products, I just inherited a bit of snobbery for southeast asian fish sauce, from the friend who introduced me to ethnic grocery stores (who himself was introduced to them through a Laotian friend).

I've always been told that the japanese make the best soy sauces, and thailand and vietnam the best fish sauce (fish sauce made from squid or crab, are among the best, and the most expensive).

I've read more about the food safety issues in China (and the steps their government and ours are taking to prevent it from continuing), and I'm not sure that the risk is much higher than USA products. There's been many salmonella and e.coli outbreaks and even botulism from US products. Also cross-contamination issues such as products containing nuts that should not have, or those advertised as vegan containing gelatin and other meat byproducts.

There are always risks when eating food you haven't grown and prepared yourself (which isn't risk-free, either).

Some people are willing to take more risks than others. I won't ever bungee-jump, but I've never been afraid of food. Even some of the food, we've been taught to be very fearful of in this country, like undercooked egg and meat. Our local thai restaurant sells laab (a beef salad dish that in thailand, at least among the Hmong is often eaten raw - but can also be served cooked). The restaurant cannot serve the raw dish in the restaurant, but can sell it for takeout. In becoming friends with the owner, she showed me how they get their beef and why it's safe to eat (it's cryofrozen extremely fresh like "sushimi-grade" tuna), and it's used the day it is thawed. She told me that it isn't something you should eat as left overs, or leave unrefrigerated, and the Hmong patrons know this - whatever isn't eaten the day it's made is cooked for the next day. We've tried the dish, and I never would have thought I would like raw beef so much. I now see the appeal of steak tartar. It smells nothing at all like grocery store beef, and the texture is so completely different. Just amazing stuff.

If most southeast asians are as meticulous about the freshness of their food as the owners of the restaurant we go to, I'm feeling pretty safe. I can't tell you how many times she has told me that a dish isn't available or had to be prepared a little differently because the produce that was delivered to the restaurant didn't look fresh enough for her tastes.

As to how many products in an asian store are imported from one country or another, it probably has more to do with the ethnicity of the owner and the ethnicity of their customers, although I know some stores try to be truly global and will have products from all over the world. I would love to travel (and would eat the street foods), but probably will never have the means to, so ethnic markets are my window to a world I'd love to visit. Export foods are probably generically somewhat safer than street foods (they're certainly more heavily regulated), so I feel reasonably safe.

I do know that my cavalier attitude towards foods probably puts me at slightly greater risk of foodbourne illness than most folks, but I think the odds are still pretty low. And as a bonus, my sense of adventure puts me at virtually no risk of spinal cord injury.

kittycat40
04-17-2009, 07:32 PM
Kaplods, my husband always jokes that I will eat any "disgusting" food item on the menu. He loses his generally fabulous diplomacy and tact when he says this. I forgive his ignorance in this one arena.

most recent find-- in a Chinese Candy Shop-- it is sliced down the middle little fish then dried and dipped in sesame and a sugar chili mixture. yum.
that and dried and sweetened squid (or as my Thai au pair calls it "squiddy")

kaplods
04-17-2009, 07:40 PM
Kaplods, my husband always jokes that I will eat any "disgusting" food item on the menu. He loses his generally fabulous diplomacy and tact when he says this. I forgive his ignorance in this one arena.

most recent find-- in a Chinese Candy Shop-- it is sliced down the middle little fish then dried and dipped in sesame and a sugar chili mixture. yum.
that and dried and sweetened squid (or as my Thai au pair calls it "squiddy")

Yep, my hubby asks that I eat my "fish products," while he's not home. He's such a big baby, he can't even stand being in the same room when I eat them.

I LOVE the sweetened dried squid, and I a friend gave me bags of rice crackers that had bright shiny little fish in the mix - weirdly the crackers tasted of fish, and the fish had no fish taste - if you ate the litle fish without seeing them, you'd think they were pieces of crunchy toffee. I haven't seen it since, or I'd be buying them regularly. Eating the "toffee" fish was such a hoot (they were obviously whole "real" fish, all shiny and silvery, but if someone said they were made of candy, and not real fish, it would be easy to believe).

Renacer
04-19-2009, 12:00 PM
I love sardines, my grandmother used to add some spanish onion, red bell pepper and capers and served them with rice or just boiled green bananas...So delicious!

mizski
04-19-2009, 12:37 PM
I missed this thread when it started...I'm glad it got revived! Kaplods, I love your descriptive scary canned fish posts. :D

I used to be very adventurous years ago with my foods and it was probably easier as I had several Asian markets around. Now after years of being caregiver to my parents and no ethnic markets of any sort available, I lost that. My tastebuds seem to be more on the bland side now too. :p How boring!!! Those crispy clams are calling to me...I may have to order some. :)

Thanks again for the thread. >o>

CJZee
04-19-2009, 02:05 PM
My preference for sardines -- I like the smaller ones, so I look for the tins that say "two layers" (vs. "one layer). You know then the sardines will not be the big chunky ones which seem more "fishy" to me because to fit "two layers" into those skinny tins you know they have to be pretty small.

LindseyLouWho
04-19-2009, 05:36 PM
Kaplods, while I was looking around on the internet today, I stumbled upon a rice cracker snack mix that might be like the one you had with the small dried fish. Here's the link: http://veryasia.com/199204.html

It's called Kongo Mamefubuki Mix Cracker. I don't know if you were willing to order it off of the internet, but just in case...

kaplods
04-19-2009, 08:45 PM
Kaplods, while I was looking around on the internet today, I stumbled upon a rice cracker snack mix that might be like the one you had with the small dried fish. Here's the link: http://veryasia.com/199204.html

It's called Kongo Mamefubuki Mix Cracker. I don't know if you were willing to order it off of the internet, but just in case...

YES! That's the one! I may have to order some.

Thanks,