Jellied whitefish sets Malcolm to thinking about a nuclear winter white-out

International Fish Whitefish in Jelly

"To maximize the enjoyment of this product, chill for 30 minutes."

That's it. That's the only advice my 8.8-ounce can of International Fish Whitefish in Jelly offers about this foreboding member of the jellied meat family.

What was I expecting? Oh, I don't know, perhaps a serving suggestion that included fish fumet, vermouth, fennel, clams, shrimp, calamari, saffron, tomatoes and onions. Something like that, maybe.

No such luck. My can of Whitefish in Jelly is mute.

Then again, when it comes to canned meat products, any preparation beyond un-cramming can be daunting. These are foods meant to be consumed in a bomb shelter, utensils optional. Then again, if one happens to be dining on Whitefish in Jelly in a bomb shelter, it probably won't be too hard to chill the stuff: Just let the nuclear winter do the work.

Nuclear winter notwithstanding, so intent on maximizing my enjoyment was I that I left my jellied fish in my fridge for a good week. Only after the whitefish had reached what I imagined was a state of extreme enjoyment-maximizing readiness did I extract it.

Then, disappointment: Apparently the folks at International Fish consider just about any semi-viscous liquid good to go, jelly-wise. Instead of having to dig through an aspic-laden glob to reach your prize, with a can of Whitefish in Jelly you simply stir the oily fluid, then tine up a chunk.

I must say, though: Denuded of its cloudy broth and held up to the light, the whitefish doesn't look half bad. For starters, it's white. What's more, it's discernible as fish (something of a rarity among your jellied meat products). Its flesh betrays a pleasing firmness that yields slowly but with good cheer to the teeth. Yes, all that "jelly" has been working 24/7 for untold years to keep this whitefish moist.

How does it taste? Bleh. Sort of like chicken — chicken of the sea, that is.

So there you have it. International Fish Whitefish in Jelly merits a spot on our bomb shelter's shelf. Be warned, though: Maximizing your enjoyment may expose you to radiation.

Seen a foodstuff you're too timid to try? Malcolm will eat it! E-mail particulars to [email protected].

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