Snack Review: Brunswick Seafood Snacks Golden Smoked Herring Fillets

Quick question: We all know curiosity killed the cat, but did it kill the foodie?

Quick answer: No, it only made him stronger.

Let me explain.

I am your classic Grocery store browser. You know what I mean. The kind of guy who spends an hour slowing pacing up and down the aisles of the ethnic foods sections and bargain areas, carefully scouring the shelves for that one ingredient or item that just “hits” him. It being Lent and all (and I being a Catholic living in a landlocked state which is about 90% LDS), my weekly travels up and down the aisles have taken me increasingly toward the canned fish section, with the ubiquitous metal tins and pouches of tuna no longer sufficing my curious culinary mind.

Canned salmon? Eh, too in-style. Smoked mussels in cottonseed oil? Ugh, not on sale this week. Anchovies? Sardines? No, too predictable.

Then it hit me, like a solidly built fishing boat in the North Atlantic Sea hits an oncoming wave. Reaching up on my tippy toes (yes, I am rather short) I snagged a tin of Brunswick Seafood Snacks with eager anticipation. Did I have any idea what a golden smoked boneless herring fillet tastes like, much less looks like? Dear goodness no, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t willing to try out the Canadian made product. Besides, with 1.0g of omega-3 fatty acids per serving I figured it would give all you health freaks out there something to applaud me in during my nightly snack routine.

The first thing I noticed after opening the tin can was the smell. I was expecting something that smelled like anchovies, but the fillet itself smelled only “kinda” fishy. Actually, I could smell the natural smoke flavoring, which was a good sign considering the first ingredient on the package is “naturally smoked Herring.” While it’s tough to explain the aroma (think a less sexy version of lox mixed with some high end albacore from a can) I can say that it wasn’t off-putting, and despite my expectations the fillet was not as oily as I thought it would be. That being said, I still poured off about a half tablespoon of oil from the can, and for as much as I would have loved to ingest all that fishy goodness, I also discarded some of the skin, which I found to have a slimy/funky texture that even the smoke flavor couldn’t mask.

My first bite of the “meat” was a little underwhelming. On its own, the fillet tasted very plain. I was expecting something strong, fishy and salty, but rather I received a muted smoke flavor and just a hint of saltiness. As I savored the fillet chunks I realized that the smoke flavor became more pronounced, so much so that it also exhibits a kind of sweetness – despite the fact that there was no sweetener listed on the ingredient list. I couldn’t fix the kind of wood the fillet were smoked over (alder, perhaps?) but it was curiously addictive.

For as interesting as I found the Herring on its own, I absolutely rocked it out with a more traditional application. Taking a suggestion from Wikipedia, I toasted up a nice, thick slice of marble rye and spread some whipped cream cheese over it. Then I layered the smoky Herring fillets above the cream cheese, piling on a few grilled red onions and pinch each of garlic salt and dill weed to boot. The result was pure snackage heaven, and the kind more Americans could probably get a load of. Multi-layered, with a cool/sweet/salty and definitely savory taste complexion, my “English style” breakfast made a great snack after a long day of traveling. So, to sum it up, if you’re into fish I would definitely check out Brunswick’s Kippered Snacks. But even if you’re not, their naturally smoked flavor and health benefits make them worth a try, especially if you’re a Catholic on Friday looking for some culinary inspiration.

Pros: Natural smoky flavor masks any lingering "fishiness" you'd probably expect. Not too oily, but still has a nice moistness and isn't overly salty. Good source of protein and healthy, all-the-rage fats that I probably mitigated by throwing out the skin. Makes a nice piece of toast when combined with cream cheese, dill and rye. Just screams foodie sophistication in a dorm full of jealous college students getting their snack fix off of Ramen and Dominos.

Cons: A bit expensive. Somewhat plan on its own and awkward to eat. Lots of "that kid is freaking weird" stares and "what the heck smells like dead fish" looks in the common room.

Price: 1.29 (on sale)

Overall GrubGrade: 8.75 (Very Good)

More Info: www.Brunswick.ca
Nutrition Facts:
Brunswick Seafood Snacks Golden Smoked Herring Fillets
Serving Size: 1 Tin (3.5 oz)
Calories: 130
Calories from Fat: 70
Total Fat: 8g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.5g
Monounsaturated Fat: 4g
Cholesterol: 60mg
Sodium: 240mg
Total Carbs: 0g
Protein: 16g

21 comments on “Snack Review: Brunswick Seafood Snacks Golden Smoked Herring Fillets

  1. Henry says:

    i am so glad you reviewed these … i see them all the time at the supermarket and keep wimping out rather than trying them. i’m a sucker for pickled herring so naturally i’m looking for other herring-based avenues.

    one thing about those brunswick products though: do the fillets have all kinds of off-putting bones in them? their sardines have the spines all intact, and i find that just all kinds of nasty 😛

    • Crusader says:

      Sardine bones are very soft and nutritious!@ I always eat them.

    • Twenty_Twenty says:

      No bones at all. These are fillets; they are not sardines with lock stock and innards, including bones.

      As far as boneless, they are just that!

      My fav. is the lemon-cracked pepper; low salt!!!

      My only complaint is that the product varies a great deal in firmness. Including withing the same box ( of 18 ) / batch. Some are just right, others, same dates etc. , are plain mushy.

      I have contacted the company; yet they seem to only offer “excuses”. Not encouraging.

  2. Adam says:

    Nio bones. I don’t think I would have been able to handle that!

  3. rob says:

    I buy their kippered herring snacks, it is the one they wrap in red label. Costs $1.09 at Publix.

    They don’t have the same nastiness factor that sardines often have.

  4. Reader says:

    If you enjoyed these with the taste for a milder brisling sardine, I would recommend the “King Oscar Two Layer Sardines in Olive Oil.”

    I believe this is the same one that rob mentioned above, but you can find them in some stores and this site (just picture linked): http://www.buythecase.net/uploads/products/200/3480000200.jpg

    They have a milder flavor that reminds me of a softer oily mild salmon and tend to melt in the mouth, but as your review covered, it does need some substance like toasted bread to provide a good mouthfeel. The nice thing is they are packed in two crossed layers without being swamped in oil so each individual fish can be retrieved easily. Well, not so easily since they tend to break with the lightest touch, but chopsticks help. They’re a bit on the pricey side depending on where you look though.

  5. Raiders757 says:

    I have never been able to eat any sort of seafood that’s packaged in a can. of course I’m not a huge seafood fan. I do love fish, but only when it’s fresh. Also, I’ve never been able to stomach canned meats like Span or sardines. Yuck! Those pics look just… just… Oh hell, I can’t even find words to describe how nasty they look. Your a brave soul for eating that stuff.

  6. Optimizer says:

    Interestingly, Raiders757, I recall reading once that in Spain, they put the best of their best fish and other seafood products in cans. So I guess the old adage may hold truth: Don’t judge a book (or a can) by its cover (or its lid).

  7. Henry says:

    once you’ve had ventresca tuna from a can you’ll be turned around forever. literally one of the best things you can ever eat, and it comes in a can. amazing!

    still can’t get up the nerve to try these herring snacks 😀

  8. Mark says:

    Hi, I believe these are smoked with maple. Maybe that makes it a little sweet?

    Anyway, tasty stuff, I like one with an egg and toast for breakfast. Neat site you have. 🙂

  9. James says:

    I grew up in a small town near Reykjavik, Iceland. There was a small factory that made about 50% of all the King Oscar brand tinned “kippers”/smoked herring. Same cans and all. My friend and I worked in the main fish plant (cod/haddock), while his Mom was on in the herring cannery. We used to go and pull these fresh right out of the smoker before they were canned. Yum!!!

  10. With varying amounts of mustard, I can and will eat canned salmon, sardines, and tuna.

    All three have medicinal qualities, which I appreciate.
    OH, but I LOVE herring!

    This is a godsend in my search for Omega-3 food!

  11. Christine says:

    I started eating smoked herring back in 1985 while on a magnificent & amazing trip to England & Wales.
    I was hooked the first time I saw/smelled, ate them.
    I am not big on sea food by any means but at the same time am very fussy about what I eat.
    I’ve been eating King Oscar Smoked Herring ever since. I wish I could get some fresh smoked herring where I live but have never seen it made or produced in any shops where I am.
    I’m sure they are all pretty much the same whatever company brand they are. I’m just so happy to be able to get them at least in cans. They are wonderful. Actually, I just had a can with some whole wheat bread for lunch.
    I am in love with this product and eat it often.

    I wish I could find a place where they make fresh smoked herring as I would not hesitate to buy some. But I will settle for the canned product as it comes very close to fresh, imho.
    Every time I eat Kipper Snacks (referred to as Kipper’s in the UK) it brings me back to my trip over across Pond.
    I would hopefully love to return one day again and enjoy a fresh smoked herring. But for now King Oscar is the closest I’ve found to the fresh, just made, herring I had back then.

    For those reluctant to try smoked herring, please don’t put your nose up until you’ve decided to try it.
    You never know. You may just incorporate it into your lifestyle.

    Thank you for this site. I’m happy I found it. 🙂

  12. Darlene says:

    My son since he’s been 10 eats the Smoked Herring Fillets, he and his friends love them. Great snack for kids they eat it right out of the can.

  13. julian says:

    I’ve been eating these tins of smoked and kippered herring all my life…..you either love ’em or hate ’em. If you take ’em for a packed lunch…as I have done thousands of times….be aware that in an indoor lunch room the smell of smoked fish can be over whelming to fellow diners.
    With rye bread and traditional Scandinavian condiments such as mustard……and red onion you have a great lunch…beer too of course.
    The history of packing these little fish in Black Harbour is the stuff of legend.
    The 82gm tin at a big grocery store anywhere in Canada has been well under $1 CAD for as far back as I can remember.

  14. Kathleen says:

    Kipper snacks are wonderful. I love to make a salad and couple it with that lovley smoked fish. I enjoyed reading GrubGrade.

  15. Andrew says:

    If you think these are good – try their hot sauce variety! I’m hooked.

  16. Sammye says:

    I got hold of your web because I wondered what kippers taste like…I love sardines in olive oil (Prince Edward) and appreciate your vivid description of kippers. I used to eat pickled herring frequently, but I noticed in Walmart (even!) it’s about $6 bucks! Try the aforementioned delicacies with kalamata olive bread! I never thought about the cream cheese and dill….but I’ve done the capers. And, pumpernickel would be fabulous along with some slicked tomatoes and green onions! I guess a bagel would be tasty with this combo, too! I’ve also seen recipes on Cook’s website for sardine salad….

    As a retiree, these less expensive healthy protein options are a godsend.

    Thanks for the info!

  17. jeriwho says:

    I also am needing to eat Omega-3 fishies to help me combat chronic joint pain. I have conquered my squeamishness about sardines (as long as they are headless, tailless, skinless, and boneless), and I was wondering about herring/kippers. Thank you so much for the detailed explanation, descriptions, and photos! I will probably go looking for headless, skinless, tailless, and boneless kippers as well, but I am willing to take the plunge after reading your excellent article.
    jeriwho

  18. Lyle says:

    This is an old post. But I will comment anyway! My Grandad got me eating them when I was small and I have been eating them ever since. We take and pour the juices out and add apple cider vinegar. Put them on a saltine cracker for a great snack! As the gentleman mentioned above. You either love em or hate em!

  19. Brian says:

    Just ate a can of chicken of the sea brand Kippers after not being able to find the prince edward brand I usually eat, and believe it had bones in it! i have never encountered this before and am wondering if this is normal? They scraped my throat as I ate them. I will not be eating this brand again.