Canned Mackerel in Soy Sauce
In the fridge was a can of mackerel.
A dented can.

Because we are moving house so slowly, box by box, unpacking and putting things where they belong as we go (the thrill of having seven-or eight if you count the pantry-closets, plus deep cupboards and drawers in both bathrooms, has not yet worn off!) not very many things have been damaged. One leaded glass flamingo garden ornament was bent, leaving a small empty triangle on its neck because his head was poking out of the box.

And one small can of mackerel in soy sauce
was dented.

The can’s distinguished history began in 1795 when the French government offered a prize of 12,000 francs to anyone who could invent a method of preserving food. Napoleon’s troops were being decimated more by hunger and scurvy than by combat. As his soldiers resorted to foraging for food on their own, Napoleon famously noted that an army “travels on its stomach.” Military prowess and colonial expansion required that a way of keeping food unspoiled over distance and time be discovered.

—from Cans: a Visual History

Also in the fridge was half a pot of Jasmine rice, half a lemon, and a bunch of cilantro. Lunch!

Fish braised in sweetened soy sauce is popular in Japan,  and I’m sure this canned mackerel would have been tasty eaten just by itself, it seemed necessary to disguise my lack of skill in removing the steaks from the can: a
nice rice salad.


5 thoughts on “Canned Mackerel in Soy Sauce

  1. Hmm… Mackerel in soy sauce. Not something I’ve seen over here in Britain (we get tomato, spicy tomato or mustard sauces – all variations on dull/vile).

    Might give it a try come summer, when mackerel season comes round again – or maybe just marinate some brine-canned mackerel with soy, spring onions and ginger for a day or so. Worth a try, I think.

    I’ve always found it quite staggering, by the way, that with the invention of canning, it didn’t actually occur to anyone – for years – to devise a method of opening the things!


    • I believe my husband bought the can maybe while he was working in New York—usually canned fish scares me. He is willing to try fish (sardines) with mustard or tomato sauce. Sounds bad to me!
      Kippered sardines and smoked oysters or mussels are good for lunch, though if I bring them to work I get comments that something smells funny. LOL But on a beach? perfect snack with a bottle of warm beer.
      This canned mackerel was pretty good. And if you braise fresh fish as in the recipe I linked to in the post, that is very nice. Also, I found a number of similar recipes online that include miso in the sauce.
      I don’t think I’d try marinating brine-canned mackerel: maybe try with rice or noodles or on a sandwich, with the spring onions and fresh ginger flavored oil. Sounds a bit like doctoring Campbell’s soups. IMO

      Re: can openers
      It’s taken a while for us to keep a can opener and a cork-screw in our suitcases for traveling. Some of the economy places we stay don’t provide such amenities at the front desk…

  2. “Sounds a bit like doctoring Campbell’s soups.”

    In that one can’t possibly make it worse?

    I’m cool with canned sardines in tomato – they generally formed part of my backpacking kit – always room to slip in a few of those flat cans. As long as I remembered a key, of course (this was way before ringpulls).

    • “In that one can’t possibly make it worse?”
      No. I meant that one can’t make it better. Better to have, or at least attempt, the best. Life is its own limitation.

      My memories of smoked oysters/mussels/clams/ on beaches, like your backpacking, made for some of the best meals I ever ate. No recipe to duplicate the experience.

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