It’s fitting that The Tinned Fish Market began in Liverpool. I wanted to sell a product that I was passionate about, and one that the UK was not too familiar with. I’m from Madrid, and so I know how tinned fish is revered as a delicacy in my home country, as it is in neighbouring Portugal and France, how the canneries use tried-and-true methods that are a century or more old, how the tins are as exquisite to look at as the fish inside tastes. And then there was Liverpool’s maritime heritage. Things were clicking into place.
In May 2018 I flew to Porto and met with the teams at renowned Portuguese canneries like Pinhais and Cântara and brought back with me some of the tins that I liked, ones that we still sell today. People in Liverpool – at the Redbrick Market where we had a pitch - were immediately drawn to the tins, and once the contents were sampled a loyal clientele began to build. As the popularity of the product grew I began taking the tins to farmers markets at buzzy Lark Lane and Hope Street in the city, and across the water in Wirral. I was soon taking the tins to Levenshulme in Manchester, Treacle market in Macclesfield, Knutsford, Rode Hall, Conwy food festival. Greens, a deli in Oxton, Wirral that sources from a network of artisanal makers, began to stock my tins, and still does. I did pop-ups there, where I’d chat to would-be customers about the provenance and all round wonders of tinned fish. Today I supply tins to delis and restaurants across the UK, and have stalls at Borough Market and Broadway Market in London. We enjoy chatting to customers there and adding more of your recipe ideas to the website each week.
2020 was quite a year, for more than the usual reasons. In January, Radio 4’s The Food Programme visited The Tinned Fish Market’s headquarters. Sheila Dillon described the taste of one tin as “spectacular”, and the programme’s producer became a tuna convert that day. The tins we source were described as “handsome” by the FT and tasting like “heaven” by The Times – which is, I think, a neat summation of the tins’ appeal. The year was topped off with Felicity Cloake making our monthly subscription box her ‘Food’ pick in the Guardian’s 2020 Christmas gifts list. And it was in November 2021 that we arrived at Borough Market and Broadway Market in London, which brings us right up to date.
We continue to be excited by tinned fish – the delicious flavour it retains and attains when tinned using methods that are slower, machine-light and more hands-on, the recipes that it can complement and, most encouraging of all, the recognition of all this in Britain and overseas.