Gourmet preserved fish

Photography: Rodney Macuja

Next-level preserved fish comes of age in Italy.

Anyone who has seen a few episodes of The Walking Dead or flipped through Colson Whitehead's Zone One or Cormac McCarthy's The Road will tell you that in an apocalypse situation (zombie-driven or otherwise), top-quality canned and jarred goods can mean the difference between life and death. And so it is in an emergency entertaining situation (zombie-driven or otherwise).

Tinned fish is, of course, an essential standby in any kitchen (see our page on what to do with preserved tuna), but it's worth knowing that Italy (along with that past master, Spain) produces some stuff in tins and jars that's too good to hide in the cupboard.

Ventresca, the cut of tuna from the belly, is the most prized, followed closely by the fillets (such as Tre Torri's, above, $36 for 300gm from Enoteca Sileno), but some producers are branching out. Or, in the case of Moreno Cedroni, chef of the two-starred La Madonnina del Pescatore, in Ancona on the Adriatic coast, branching way out. His striking signature range includes not just tuna belly, but tins of stewed monkfish tripe and liver, cuttlefish with peas, and octopus with potato and parsley (all pictured above, $15 for 130gm from Sydney's Gourmet Life), as well as jarred pasta sauces "di pesce" such as his 'Matriciana with smoked sturgeon and an anchovy-based arrabbiata (from $8 for 290gm).

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