It was New Year’s Eve afternoon, and I was limping around the local bougie grocery store in a protective boot, desperately searching for caviar with which to make my favourite fancy girl snack of caviar and chips. All they had was salmon roe, my least favourite roe. (It’s too much like a fish Gusher! Sorry!) “Of course,” I mumbled, half-chuckling. After nearly two months of emotional and physical foibles, including two hospital stays, this was not that big of a setback, but it fit neatly with my end-of-year vibe.
Luckily, there was a tasteful display of tinned seafood right next to the fridge that my caviar should have been inside. After several years of “having a moment” and being consumed by “hot girls,” it seems fish conserves are more staple than fad, and its ubiquity ended up being a blessing. “We’ll use this instead,” I told my patient boyfriend, grabbing a can of Fishwife smoked tuna.
Back at home, I put together a little spread. We had shrimp cocktail (with extra horseradish and Worcestershire sauce) and a cheese and meat plate, along with in-season citrus, and the fish and chips you see above. I built my snack just like I would with the caviar: Spread some chips around a plate in a single layer, then layered them with crème fraîche, the smoked tuna, grated cured egg yolk, and some scallions (because the bougie store was also out of chives). It was a perfect bite, and one that signalled that misfortune really does lead to new opportunities if you let it. (Or maybe it means nothing; I have been searching for meaning wherever I can find it lately.)
This snack might not have any greater cosmic significance, but it is my new favourite way to eat preserved, smoked, or cured seafood, and I think you should give it a try. Any of the smoked offerings from Fishwife would rule, but so would simple slice of lox, or a tinned preserved mussel in any variety of sauce or oil. Tiny whole fish, like a white anchovy or sardine, would be pretty good too.
If your New Year’s resolution was to “get into tinned fish,” this is an accessible way to do so. The crème fraîche, chives, and salty chips make the introduction a gentle one, with lots of fun flavours to temper anything too “fishy.” It’s savoury and snacky and creamy and just a little funky, and endlessly fun to eat. It’s fish and chips. Perhaps not the fish and chips you were looking for, but the fish and chips you need.
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