In a nutshell: Between 10 to 14 baby sardines are hand-packed into each tin, caught in the cold waters of of the Bay of Biscay and preserved with a traditional recipe by a Basque Country family firm.
These baby sardines are caught in the Bay of Biscay then simply preserved with olive oil and a little sea salt. Delicious on toast with a squeeze of lemon!
How to use:
- Enjoy with bread for lunch. Lightly toast slices of sourdough, pile the sardines on top, and dig in, with some good-quality mayo on the side.
- Serve with cocktail sticks as a tapa, alongside some roasted marcona almonds and an ice-cold copita of manzanilla sherry.
Details: 118g tin.
For centuries, the warm waters of the Gulf Stream have shepherded shoals of tuna to the Bay of Biscay, on the 3,000-mile journey from their spawning grounds in the Sargasso Sea. And for just as long, they’ve been caught by Basque fisherman during their June-to-November season. For the past 120 years, the best of this catch has been preserved by Arroyabe, a family firm from the fishing port of Bermeo. As well as tuna, they preserve anchovies, cockles and garfish – also known as needlefish, due to their long and pointed snouts.
At each stage of the production process, Arroyabe employs production methods that would be familiar to the firm’s founders. Tuna, for example, is caught the original and best way using rod-and-line, a low-impact method that doesn’t damage the seabed or capture other species, as would happen with trawling.
As you would expect, all its products are certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
The fish is then hand-prepared by skilful and experienced workers who carefully select the best pieces to use. Most are packed in olive oil, which enhances the fish’s smooth texture and savoury flavour. Some are packed in water, which brings down the product's calorie count, while some are packed in escabeche – a pickle sauce of oil and vinegar, a traditional method of preserving fish that was used before the advent of sterilisation.
Whichever you choose, you can be sure of the quality. For decades, Arroyabe’s seafood has been widely appreciated in its homeland, where it graces the menus of the Basque Country’s restaurants, txoko clubs and pintxo bars. Now you can enjoy it at home.