What's up with canned salmon with the bones?
October 14, 2008 4:28 AM   Subscribe

Why, why, WHY sell canned salmon with bones??

Last night while making a lovely salmon pea risotto I realized I mistakenly bought canned salmon with the bones in. It wasn't just little bits of bones, but what seemed like the vertebrate as well, ick. It took me ages to pick them all out and it kind of ruined the meal experience since we were wary of any bones I might have missed.

If I ever again inadvertently fall for this trap again, what can I do with a can of salmon WITH BONES?

(and why do they sell this version and why is it so hard to tell from looking at the the can?)
posted by like_neon to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The bones are soft and edible, and full of calcium, if that makes you feel any better.
posted by redfoxtail at 4:35 AM on October 14, 2008

Yeah, I eat sardines with bones all the time; the bones are, uh, a bonus. Canned fish and fresh fish are two very different things in many ways.
posted by the dief at 4:55 AM on October 14, 2008

Bones are edible but in my experience the pieces of vertebrae in tinned salmon aren't. There is nothing you can do but pick it out, most tinned salmon will have bones in to some extent. You could switch to tuna.
posted by fire&wings at 5:02 AM on October 14, 2008

I'm glad you asked this because this happened to me years ago and I never sufficiently emotionally recovered enough to buy canned salmon again. For me, too, it was the vertebrae that was the tipping point between 'the price of mass production' and 'I barely consider this food.'

I think you're either a person who is unmoved by this sort of thing or not. My father eats turkey necks, and I can barely be in the same room with him. I like oysters, but if I order them in restaurants Mr. Llama doesn't look at me THE ENTIRE TIME I'M EATING.

It's a thin line between adventurous eating and repulsiveness and everyone draws it differently.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:04 AM on October 14, 2008

If you find it too terrifying to purchase future cans of canned salmon you could try canned crab in the recipe instead--everybody knocks it but I think it's perfectly decent and not quite as much a seafood anatomy lesson.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:10 AM on October 14, 2008

Best answer: You can poach and flake a fillet of fresh salmon in about 10 minutes while you're making the rest of the risotto. That would seem a fairly easy way of not falling for it again.

Something like this.
posted by mandal at 5:22 AM on October 14, 2008

Best answer: The salmon that comes in the pouches never has bones. Better yet, even Walmart has really good frozen salmon.
posted by cda at 5:48 AM on October 14, 2008

Best answer: salmon in flat cans (or foil/plastic pouch) -- no bones.
salmon in tall cans -- bones. generally skin as well.

this is pretty standard.
posted by dorian at 5:49 AM on October 14, 2008

I'm going to answer your question above the fold: because they are delicious, crunchy, little nuggets of calcium. I miss them when they are not present.
posted by no1hatchling at 6:09 AM on October 14, 2008 [3 favorites]

I just mash them up with the rest of the salmon... I used to love finding them in my salmon patties as a kid.
posted by mgogol at 6:53 AM on October 14, 2008

Just eat them, the way the salmon is cooked they are softened and edible, also I'm used to them and like it.
posted by DJWeezy at 7:05 AM on October 14, 2008

That's the best part!
posted by sageleaf at 7:10 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you don't like the bones go with either tuna, pouch salmon, or try to pick them out. For the most part you shouldn't worry about them. However I have got a few that have not been soft and kinda hard. You could also just buy the fresh kind in the seafood section. Just rap it up in foil, put a little seasoning on it, a little butter, in the oven on 375-400 for about 10-15. Good stuff!
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:21 AM on October 14, 2008

I always eat the bones in canned salmon, but I pretty much only buy it at Trader Joes. The bones are easy to chew -- even the vertebrae.
posted by pmbuko at 7:25 AM on October 14, 2008

I had a friend that processed salmon in Alaska for a summer. He said that pretty much everything - bones, skin, random slimy fish bits, etc. - went into the cans of salmon. I use fillets for any sort of salmon recipe.
posted by Ostara at 8:08 AM on October 14, 2008

I think this post can use a resolved tag. Heh.

I fall into the like the bone, munch the vertebrae, would be disappointed if it wasn't in there camp. Even as a kid (as already mentioned) I considered this the fun part. Now I think of it more as texture, but still like it (in the rare time that I don't get fresh).
posted by cjorgensen at 8:11 AM on October 14, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you everyone. I will be on the lookout for the pouch version, which I wasn't aware was sans bones.
Of course, fresh salmon is ideal, but the beauty of the recipe I use is that it's an "emergency pantry meal" so the requirement of fresh fish would miss the point.
For those interested:

Pouch of salmon
Can of mushy peas (this is a Brit staple, I am completely unaware how available it is in the US, I think normal canned peas will do fine)
1 liter of chicken stock
300 g of risotto (arborio)
1 lemon juice and zest (I think lemon pepper would have worked fine as well)
1 chopped onion
50 g of butter (I used some frozen dill butter I made a few weeks ago, yum!)

1. Preheat oven to 200 Celsius
2. In an oven proof dish gently fry chopped onion until it goes soft in 3 tbs of olive oil
3. Add rice, chicken stock and lemon juice and zest. Bring to simmer.
4. Cover and put in oven for 20 minutes.
5. Take out. Rice will be a bit runny. This is ok. Stir in salmon and peas.
6. Back in the oven for 5 minutes.
7. Take out. Stir in butter. Add some dill or parsley if you got some. Stir about 2 minutes til it thickens.
8. Yummy yum.
posted by like_neon at 8:29 AM on October 14, 2008 [4 favorites]

"why do they sell this version"

Because it's cheaper and easier to process. When I can whole salmon at home I just cut the fish into steaks half as high as my wide mouth pint jars, plop two steaks into each jar and screw on the lids. As others said the bones soften up in the pressure canner and can just be mixed into the salmon when eaten.
posted by Mitheral at 10:01 AM on October 14, 2008

FWIW, "salmon with bones" is on the list of foods recommended to pregnant women who are lactose intolerant or who can't get enough calcium in other ways. I thought it was weird, too.
posted by weezetr at 10:40 AM on October 14, 2008

I just mash up the salmon and bones with herbs and some raspberry vinegar and they all but disappear.
posted by HotPatatta at 3:55 PM on October 14, 2008

The first time I bought canned fish, the label did say it had bones and skin inside, and touted their nutritional value. So I shrugged and just thought, "Okay, if you say so." For me anyway, the notion of eating them wasn't quite as unsettling as long as I knew ahead of time, otherwise I might've been annoyed like you were. I dunno if this particular manufacturer was just being nice, but I'd think that everyone would have to indicate on the can whether the contents do contain bones or not.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 9:14 PM on October 14, 2008

This is a bit late, but: why is removing the vertebrae so difficult? In every can of salmon I've ever had, I see the tops of 2-3 vertebrae when I open the can, but they are all vertically aligned (within the can). When poked there a bit with a fork, the fish splits in half to reveal an entire vertebra with attached bones. Then it is one quick scoop with the fork to get it out. I guess they might can them differently where you are, though.
posted by astrochimp at 8:32 AM on October 18, 2008

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