The Perfect Bite: Cracking the Code (and the Can) to Bring you Better Bites
We’re on a mission here at Wildfish Cannery to help you create the perfect bite—and not just craft it, but truly understand what goes into composing that perfect morsel. Of course, we would agree this is actually a Sisyphean task, but we feel we’ve got a pretty solid hold on a pretty solid method, as well as one secret ingredient (hint: this ingredient is not edible...)
Our journey to the best bite.
Let us remind you that we're in the business of craft smoking and canning seafood. In other words, our tins were made for the small bite mission, and it's a quest we’ve been on since day one. Hell, our owner Mathew even left the canning line and went to culinary school to try and help us navigate it! In the early years we took bites of our favorite snack and had our eyes roll back in our heads, saying to ourselves, “THIS is the one...” and spent plenty of time chasing the idea that the perfect bite began with a perfect formula. In our attempts to deconstruct the formula so we could rebuild it we hit on plenty of bites that were pretty delicious, but also sometimes rang hollow. What were we missing? It was those early trials that left us with some valuable building blocks for what we would eventually discover.
Let “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat” be your mantra.
We have some crucial basics that we’d like to share before exposing the nuances. The idea of a bite being balanced is kind of lame. That may be a hot take, but let us explain. Balance implies equal levels of every element of the composition. And that’s rather rudimentary, honestly. Maybe it’s semantics, but we think harmony is a better word to describe our goal. When a bite is harmonious, it means that certain elements sit at the forefront while being supported by other components of the bite. And these “components” were summed up perfectly by a phenomenal chef we love, Chef Samin Nosrat, in her 2017 cookbook, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat; Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking. Chef Nosrat explains all of this in much richer detail in her book than we ever could, but here’s the gist.
Chef Nosrat explains that salt, fat, acid, and heat are all crucial components to combine when looking to get the most enjoyment out of your food. So whether you’re assembling a cocktail party spread or a quick desk lunch, we implore you to keep those four keystone elements in mind!
Salt is life, fat is too.
Luckily, with tins of Wildfish, we’ve taken care of the fat and the salt components. We think it’s unfortunate that people still feel that salt and fat are bad things (thanks to toxic diet culture). In moderation (six ounces of wild salmon for example), salt and fat are wildly essential elements for our bodies. Coupled with the well-established health benefits of wild Alaska salmon (hello Omega-3s!) and our cans are both a powerhouse of flavor and have you just about halfway to your perfect bite. So with salt and fat taken care of, you just have to worry about making sure you’re bringing heat and acid to the party! We’ll talk about some of our favorite sources of those shortly, but first, that secret we mentioned:
Best buds make the most basic bites better.
Have you ever taken a trip where the travel arrangements get jacked up and somehow it doesn’t matter because you’re with friends who help you laugh through it all? Have you and your most trusted all-terrain companion ever been hiking and when you get to the top you stop for a beer, and it’s just the most perfect beer you’ve ever had even if it's just a Rainier? Have you ever missed the bus with your partner and had to walk instead but it ended up being alright because it was beautiful out? Alright, maybe those are more extreme examples, but sometimes, it doesn’t matter if you don't have your salt/acid/fat/heat combo all queued up. And that's because you’re with the right people, in the right place, or in the right mood. And those factors absolutely deserve a place in your perfect bite equation!
I’d argue that the right people, place, or mood could play the most important role in your composition! However, they may not be quite as attainable at all times as the more concrete elements of salt, fat, acid, and heat. (I don’t think anyone could be in the proverbial perfect mood when you’re eating at your desk.) So, like anything else, enjoy those moments when they come along! We’ve been calling this phenomenon “experiential eating” and it has absolutely resulted in our most favorite perfect bites thus far! It can be like trying to capture lightning in a bottle, but when you manage to do it, it really sticks with you!
Acid and heat makes a bite complete.
We said that we would talk about some of our favorite ways to introduce acid and heat to your perfect bite equation. Pickled vegetables, which add crunch and acidity to the bite, are the easy move and the card we play the most often.The veggie we call upon the most is the pickled red onion; it's the perfect contrast texturally and visually for our smoked treats. It also helps that pickled red onions are super easy and cheap to make (here's a favorite recipe!) Pickled peppers are also a logical and oft-called-upon bite addition as well. Piquillos, guindillas, or even the humble pepperoncini are on our list of favorites! Hot sauces are also a damn-near necessity, and our current favorite has to be the Bullwhip Kelp Hot Sauce made by our friends, Barnacle Foods, up in Juneau! Ideally, you’re looking for something with some punch and a decent burst of acidity, but nothing that will obliterate the rest of the bite. Chili oil is another excellent choice, as that brings heat and crunch to your bite.
Booze and brews matter too.
Another means of bringing acidity to the party is with a drink! Drinks are a great avenue to explore because of the wide variety available. We have suggested pairings on each product page, but as a general rule, look for something dry and mildly acidic (whether it be beer or wine or cocktail) to help cut through the richness of our cans. We could wax poetic about all the different potential pairings...oh wait, actually we did that already!
One last bit on bites.
To craft your perfect bite, you only need to know the basics. Then, if you are able to compliment our cans with some good bread or cheap crackers, some pickled veg, and a splash of hot sauce, you’ll never be upset with the results. But, we know that the best bites are only possible with good people or good times. The rest is all extra.