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When I first came across a TikTok video about a tinned fish date night, I have to admit that I was both very intrigued and a little turned off. Nonetheless, my curiosity was definitely piqued.
“Tinned fish night” went viral on TikTok this past summer after creator and chef Ali Hooke showcased a fun new date night idea with her husband. In multiple different videos, the two are seen collecting different types of canned fish like sardines, anchovies, and mackerel, and creating a charcuterie-style board full of accouterments like olives, cheese, crackers, and fruit. They then organize their board and grab a beverage, and voilà! Tinned fish date night is ready to go.
This concept of “tinned fish night” soon took off, inspiring many other TikTokers to create their own versions of a tinned fish board. If you’re at all in the TikTok world, you’ll know this comes as no surprise due to the fact that trendy boards are taking over the internet: butter boards, hummus boards, tinned fish boards—you name it. People seem to love adding their own twist to a classic charcuterie board.
Even though the thought of “tinned fish” as a romantic delicacy is still a relatively new concept being popularized with American audiences, according to Smithsonian Magazine, canned fish originated in France in the late 1700s. Soon this trend made its way through the rest of Europe and eventually the globe. After watching numerous videos about tinned fish boards, I knew I had to try it myself.
I decided to prepare and host my own “tinned fish date night” for myself and a couple of friends. While I can confidently say that this board wasn’t a big hit among everyone involved, it certainly got us all talking.
The “recipe” for this TikTok trend has a lot of room for variation. The basic guidelines seem to be a few different cans of fish, some sort of crackers or bread, and then other accoutrements of your choosing.
For the fish, I grabbed Minerva Sardine Pate, Wild Planet Wild Sardines, Patagonia Provisions Mackerel, and Cento Anchovies. I then grabbed two types of crackers, a baguette from the local market, Boursin cheese, a mild white cheese, and a blend of mozzarella and tomatoes.
I wish I could say there was more science behind my choices, but I was just following my gut and the recommendations of various TikTok videos.
My tinned fish board
I did my best to arrange everything in a way that I felt looked appealing, and for the most part I was happy with the outcome. I only had wooden cutting boards on hand, and since I didn’t want to get the boards too wet with fishy smells, I decided to keep the fish in the cans. This is something I’ve seen TikTokers do, but my friends said it looked a bit too much like cat food.
Once it was all laid out, I passed out plates and serving utensils and told everyone to dig in.
What everyone had to say
I could instantly see the hesitation in my friends’ eyes. The board looked pretty, that’s for sure, but none of us were used to dishing out tinned fish and placing them next to cheese and crackers. However, once we got past the initial surprise, I could tell everyone was excited to dig in. The most popular were the canned anchovies—which people loved with the mild cheese and a slice of bread.
Conversely, right off the bat, people confessed they weren’t a fan of the sardine pate. Not only did it look like cat food, but the texture was too close in resemblance, too. Another miss was the can of Wild Planet sardines. Everyone seemed to really like the flavor of these sardines, but the skin and texture of them seemed to turn people off.
“I feel like I’m just biting into a big piece of raw fish,” one friend said.
I’d say one of the major elements that I completely underestimated when putting together my tinned fish board was just how salty the experience was going to be. The tinned fish was obviously high on the salt content, but the crackers I chose were salty as well, which made for an overpowering experience. My friends were all big fans of the grapes!
“I love the sweetness to cut some of the salty. It acts like a bit of a palate cleanser,” another friend said.
Final takeaways from the evening
The best thing about the experience is that it got us all talking; everyone was engaged with the food and each other. We couldn’t shut up about our opinions on which combination was better and which combinations were downright awful. We laughed, took pictures of our creations, and at the end of the night really appreciated such a new experience for ourselves. Overall, this was a fun experience and something I’d do again.
I would certainly suggest trying the tinned fish board trend for your own version of tinned fish date night. However, if you plan on hosting your own tinned fish affair, here are my main recommendations:
- When choosing crackers and bread to accompany the fish, make sure you’re selecting types that aren’t salted or are very lightly salted.
- Also, I would include multiple types of fruit or other naturally sweet treats to act as yummy palate cleansers, which became a necessary part of the process.