Olasagasti Anchovies a la Basque
If you think about the typical can of anchovy fillets that you expect to cook with, these are radically different. While many tinned anchovies from supermarkets and even from specialty grocers can be overly salty, oily and fishy, these succulent whole fish taste clean and bright, with an extra boost of flavor that comes from their golden olive oil marinade. Bold, yet not overpowering, the marinade gets an aromatic boost from a whole cayenne pepper and whole clove of garlic, while wine vinegar adds an extra tang that takes it to another level. Yet the fresh flavor of the fish still shines. Olasagasti’s anchovies are caught at their peak every spring and are tender, yet toothsome, yielding a satisfying chew before melting in your mouth. Like other tinned fish, the spine is present and can be removed if you choose, but the canning process makes it brittle and soft enough that it’s completely edible—you won’t notice it.
Conservas de Cambados Small Sardines in Olive Oil
These petite whole sardines (with the heads removed) are just under two inches long, but their small stature doesn’t equal a lack of flavor. Elegant, clean and tasting lightly of the sea, these sardines have no trace of the pungent fishiness and unpleasant unctuousness that store bought versions often have. Their meaty texture is the perfect compliment to the silky richness that the olive oil gives the fish, lightly coating each one and helping to carry their flavor. And as with other whole tinned fish, there are still spines inside. They are easy to scrape out, but are made soft and brittle enough during the normal processing that they are barely noticeable when eaten.
Conservas de Cambados Mussels from Galicia in Escabeche (Pickled Sauce)
Plump. Meaty. Bright. These cooked whole mussels are the perfect balance between firm enough to hold their shape and tender enough to feel buttery on the palate—not chewy like other inferior brands. Their naturally orange color is intensified from the bold and zingy escabeche sauce, which seems to include a good amount of not-too-smokey Spanish paprika. The flavor of the mussels themselves is lightly briny, with a delicate ocean character, which is rounded out by the marinade’s aromatic kick. Bay leaves add a nice herbal flavor, but what truly sets these mussels apart is the addition of wine. We tried another brand that didn’t have both wine and vinegar in its marinade, just vinegar, and it had no where near the complexity of these. The wine coaxes out the paprika flavors nicely, adding a dash of fruity sweetness along the way.
Olasagasti Anchovy Fillets in Olive Oil
Caught at their peak each spring in the chilly waters of the Cantabrian sea, the flavor and texture of these fillets might convert even the staunchest anchovy hater. Pleasantly plump and meaty, these have an intensely savory flavor and a nearly buttery quality, both in the smooth richness of their flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture. You’re left with an uncommon, lingering umami and faint taste of the ocean. One of our biggest gripes with store-bought anchovy fillets is the mealy, pasty texture they can often take on, so we were pleased that these have a firm, yet richly succulent character to them. These are also boneless.