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
Brunswick Seafood Snacks Golden Smoked Herring Fillets
Serving Size: 1 Tin (3.5 oz)
Calories from Fat: 70
Total Fat: 8g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.5g
Monounsaturated Fat: 4g
Total Carbs: 0g