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Until relatively recently, I used to stock my kitchen with a hefty assortment of instant foods meant for emergencies only: reserve boxes of Annie’s cheddar shells, random frozen dinners, overly salty canned soups, and Neoguri instant ramyun. These provisions were supposed to be my safeguard against ordering takeout on nights when I couldn’t even muster the enthusiasm to crush a garlic clove. The thing is, I had “emergencies”…often. And even on nights when I successfully managed to stay away from my beloved fried takeout delights, downing a box of instant mac didn’t exactly make me feel virtuous. I knew I would never stop having emergencies; I also knew my pantry choices could do with a bit of a revamp.
These days, the VIPs of my “Emergencies Only” stash are a different kind of “instant” food: canned fish, all different kinds, which live in a dedicated section of my cupboard. Whether mackerel, tuna, sardines, or smoked trout, these tiny, versatile tins are my lifesavers on nights when my tired ass can’t possibly stir or stew or sautée. Open a tin of smoked trout (Fishwife makes an amazing one), mix it with sour cream, a little lemon juice, and salt and pepper, and you’ve got a fishy spread for toast. A few meaty sardines layered with lightly dressed arugula and thinly sliced onions becomes a mighty fine sandwich. Put a tin of tuna directly on a dinner plate with a little pile of pickles and crackers for a lazy person’s (me) snack platter. And on nights when you can muster the energy to boil water, there’s no more satisfying rendition of pantry pasta than this version with mackerel, which I often make using fish from Patagonia Provisions.
Patagonia Provisions canned mackerel is my favorite everyday tinned fish because it’s priced gently enough for a Tuesday night (save the $30 tin of gourmet anchovies for a party), sustainably sourced from Spanish fishermen with who catch the mackerel with minimal bycatch or baitfish, and very delicious. Like many of the best tinned fishies, the mackerel comes packed in olive oil (a must, since it lends lots of flavor straight out of the can) with additional seasonings like lemon and caper and Spanish paprika, which means less work for me to turn it into a meal. They’re tasty enough that sometimes I’ll eat them straight from an overturned can sprinkled with a little flaky salt, like my own personal Fancy Feast, with some bread for dipping into the flavored oil.
With a tin of Patagonia Provisions canned mackerel on hand at all times and infinite ways to make it into dinner without leaving the house, I’m way less tempted to hit the “Order” button on my phone these days—though I most definitely still have a 12-pack of Neoguri stashed in my hall closet. You know, for true emergencies.
Cook the Recipe:
Keep a couple of tins of fish in the pantry and this 20-minute pantry pasta will always be within reach