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The Great Sardine Taste-off – best canned sardines – Next 7

  • r

After trying 30 types of canned sardines here are my thoughts:

- Sardines caught near Portugal or Spain are the best with a meaty tuna flavor
- Italian grocery stores carry the best brands of Portuguese sardines (in my area anyway)
- Olive oil is the best medium for sardines
- Really skip those flavored with tomato sauce or mustard
- Read that ingredient list there is no reason for anything but fish, oil/water or salt

Here are the next 7 canned sardines, in order of preference:

Rankings

1. Matiz Gallego sardines in olive oil - Spain - $2. 99
2. Idamar Portuguese Sardines in olive oil - Portugal - $2. 25
3. Gonsalves Sardines in olive oil – Portugal - $1.99
4. Da Morgada Sardines in Pure Olive Oil - Portugal - $3. 99
5. BELA-Olhão lightly smoked sardines in cayenne pepper-flavored extra virgin olive oil. - Portugal - $1. 75
6. Crown Prince One Layer Sardines in soy bean oil no Salt - Scotland - $1. 85
7. Brand: BUMBLE BEE Sardines in Water – Poland - $.89

The top four sardines were almost equally delicious. Appearance or price was the deciding factor. If a $4 and a $2 can tastes similar, the less expensive option was ranked higher.

After thirty cans of sardines, Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi all’olio di olivo, still is the clear winner. My can of French sardine is in the mail.

Full ranking and link to previous post at end.

THE DETAILS

Size – my casual grading:
Large = length of can
Small = ½ length of can or smaller
Medium = anything in between

Brand: BELA-Olhão lightly smoked sardines in cayenne pepper-flavored extra virgin olive oil.
Calories per can: 260
Ingredients: Sardines, extra virgin olive oil, cayenne pepper-flavor, salt, natural smoke flavor
Taste: Nice meaty texture and held their shape nicely. Did not have the more assertive tuna flavor of other Portuguese sardines but were less fishy. Caynenne was barely noticeable, a little after tingle. Flavor is in the oil. Not like some spicy sardines where the spice takes over. You taste the sardine first, then the oil. Neutral olive oil. While these were good, they didn’t have the flavor punch of some of the other sardines or an olive oil that had any special deliciousness. I wouldn’t go out of my way to seek these out.


Brand: BUMBLE BEE Sardines in Water – Poland - $.89
Calories per can: 120
Ingredients: SARDINES, WATER, SALT
Country of origin: Poland
Taste: 5 large uniform size sardines that held their shape with not too much spine. They were a mild sardine with a touch of bitterness. Would not buy again.

Brand: Crown Prince One Layer Sardines in soy bean oil no Salt
Calories per can: 230
Ingredients: Brisling sardines, soy bean oil
Taste: Eight medium sardines that looked really nice in the can – very silvery skin with few nicks. Fell apart easily. Very nice delicate texture. Classic sardine taste (not the tuna taste of Portuguese sardines). Lovely smoke flavor that was prominent but not overwhelming. A little bit of bitterness. Naturally wood-smoked. Probably wouldn’t seek them out, but might try other Crown Prince varieties.

Brand: Da Morgada Sardines in Pure Olive Oil
Calories per can: some sort of European measurement I couldn’t figure out.
Ingredients: Sardines, olive oil, salt
Taste: four large sardines, skin intact. Saltier than most. Excellent tuna flavor without being too fishy. Nice mild olive oil. Fresh taste.

The website says these are “ Pilchardus Walbaum are collected from the waters just off the shore of Portugal. They are caught between May and November, when sardines are at their best. Only fresh fish is allowed. The process involves manual cleaning and very careful handling, followed by the traditional cooking in a grill oven before being canned”

Might buy again. For the price they were not significantly better and I would have to make special trip to buy them. Do like the attention to quality.

Brand: Gonsalves Sardines in olive oil
Calories per can: 260
Ingredients: sardines, olive oil, salt
Taste: Three large sardines which held their shape nicely and had a ‘tuna’ taste to them. Mild olive oil, A few points off for shabbiness of skin. Not overly spiny. Would buy again.

Brand: Idamar Portuguese Sardines in olive oil
Calories per can: 235
Ingredients: Sardines, olive oil, salt
Taste: Three fat sardines. Presented in can with the black backs, so it was alarming to see the dark fish in the can instead of the silvery skin that sardines have on the side and belly.
Tuna flavor, not as assertive as most. Good balance of oil and sardines. Nice rich olive oil. Would buy again.

Brand: Matiz Gallego sardines in olive oil
Calories per can: 228
Ingredients: Sardines, olive oil, salt
Taste: Three VERY plump sardines. Medium fish smell. Italian tuna taste.& mild olive oil. Nice balance. Would buy again

OVERALL RANKINGS

1. Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi all’olio di olivo – Portugal/Italy - $1.99
2. Gallego sardines in olive oil - Spain - $2. 99
3. Idamar Portuguese Sardines in olive oil - Portugal - $2. 25
4. Gonsalves Sardines in olive oil – Portugal - $1.99
5. Da Morgada Sardines in Pure Olive Oil - Portugal - $3. 99
6. Albo Sardines in Olive oil – Spain - $4.99
7. King Oscar Sardines Mediterranean style – Norway, packed in Poland - $2.99
8. Yankee Clipper lightly smoked sardines in soybean oil – Morocco - $2.49
9. King Oscar Extra Small Sardines in fish oil 2 layers – Norway - $2.99
10. Brand: BELA-Olhão lightly smoked sardines in cayenne pepper-flavored extra virgin olive oil. - Portugal - $1. 75
11. Beach Cliff Sardines in soybean oil – USA / Canada - $.69
12. Brunswick Sardines in Spring Water No Salt Added – Canada - $1.19
13. Madrigal spiced sardines in vegetable oil – Morocco - $1.59
14. Brunswick Sardines in Olive Oil – Canada - $1.19
15. King Oscar Extra Small Brisling Sardines in purest virgin olive oil – Norway - $2.99
16. King Oscar tiny tots Sardines in olive oil two layers – Norway - $2.99
17. Crown Prince One Layer Sardines in soy bean oil no Salt - Scotland - $1. 85
18. Palacio Real Small Sardines in Olive oil (slightly smoked) – Spain - $2.99
19. King Oscar Sardines in pure spring water – Norway - $2.99
20. BUMBLE BEE Sardines in Water – Poland - $.89
21. Mega Sardines in tomato sauce with chili – The Philippines - $.79
22. Brunswick Sardines in Mustard Sauce – Canada - $1.19
23. Bumble Bee Sardines in Mustard – Poland - $.89
24. Yankee Clipper lightly smoked sardines in tomato sauce – Morocco - $2.49
25. Yankee Clipper lightly smoked sardines in mustard sauce – Morocco - $2.49
26. King Oscar Sardines in tomato – Norway - $2.99
27. Brunswick Sardines in Mustard and Dill Sauce – Canada - $1.19
28. King Oscar Skinless & boneless Sardines in olive oil – Morocco - $2.99
29. Gourmet Award lightly smoked sardines in tomato sauce – Morocco - $1.89
30. Brunswick Sardines in tomato & basil Sauce – Canada - $1.19

THE NEW BRANDS SAMPLED

Brand: BELA-Olhão
Manufacturer: Blue Galleon, Inc.
http://www.mybela.com/

Brand: Crown Prince
Manufacturer: Crown Prince, Inc
http://www.crownprince.com/index.html

Brand: Da Morgada
Manufacturer: Tradifoods
www.tradifoods.pt

Brand: Gonsalves
Manufacturer: The Henry Gonsalves Co

Brand: Idamar
Manufacturer: Idama

Brand: Matiz Gallego
Manufacturer: Matiz Gallego
http://www.psimports.net/
http://www.matizespana.com/

Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

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  1. This and previous post---so welcome. My favorite is the mighty, meaty As Do Mar in the yellow box.

    1. Your brilliant piece impelled me to go downstairs and open a can of some sardines I'd bought from Trader Joe's and hadn't tried yet: the brand name is "Nuri" (in quotes like that), they're spiced Portuguese sardines in olive oil with piri-piri peppers, carrot, cucumber, laurel, clove, peppercorn and salt. Two great big meaty guys, nice firm texture, and WOWSIE! good. The spice flavors have a definite effect on the fish, but the overall result pleases me very much. I even ate up the vegetables (one tiny slice each of carrot and cucumber - NOT the pepper).

      Imported by Food International Supply Corp. (FISCO) of Fremont, CA. Packed by Pinhais & Co. Lda., Matosinmos, Portugal. As I said, I got'em at TJ's some time ago and don't remember the price, but I'll definitely be going back for more!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Will Owen

        Wow, those sound great. My local TJ's just sells King Oscar. Maybe it is not in the sardine section. I'll keep my eyes open.

        1. re: Will Owen

          Nuri Sardines now available in Canada & Toronto

        2. Ahh, yes, THIS is the Chowhound post I've been waiting for...since I've been known to slide down a few cans (or a dozen fresh-charcoal-grilleds) now and again!

          The reality is this: My personal collection of Sardine cans and labels and openers and paraphernalia and some ephemera goes back to the '70s - way before King Oscar was Bumbled by the Bee and the packing was done on-site at the shores of Norway (Stavanger, Bergen, etc.). Many great sardine memories.

          Anyway, I'm looking forward to hearing more - and, in a much more recent (not seen since 2004) phenomenon, King Oscar had a standout product: NORWEGIAN SARDINES IN PESTO SAUCE.

          Keep the a-fishy-anados informed!

          3 Replies
          1. re: Mike R.

            WHOA - Missed the boat at first but I just read your K.O. "Pesto" review on the "Original-23"...are you absolutely, positively sure about that?

            1. re: Mike R.

              You know, I may have unjustly dumped on King Oscar sardines in pesto sauce. I had some brand in pesto sauce that was awful. I saw some King Oscar's when I wrote that first report and guessed that was the brand in pesto. However, I saw something like Bumblebee or that type of brand in pesto, so I'll have to revisit this. King Oscar has usually been reliably good.

              1. re: rworange

                I'm not certain the pesto K.O.'s are being sold any longer...shame. Anyway, look closely at the various styles under the King Oscar brand...not all the brisling are packed in Poland.

                To be sure, there's been a migration of the catch (for packing purposes) from the ports of Olhao, Matosinhos, Portimao and other Portuguese sardine centers of excellence over to the Moroccan coast.

                Furthermore, brands that were formerly Norwegian and Danish product have shifted to Scotland.

                The perfect example of a "lost sardine" is the fabled, beloved MOOSEABEC SARDINES, original lightly-spiced Norwegian in a moose-adorned red box - in its last days they were Port Clyde's fish from Maine and were a shadow of their former selves. I never fully understood this move or the ultimate brand demise.

                You just can't DINE without a SAR-DINE.

          2. Outstanding job.

            Now, do you have any pull with Fairway? Apart from their gourmet French sardines, which are wonderful and expensive, the rest of their range is at the bottom of your list.

            Thanks!

            - Sean

            1 Reply
            1. re: Sean Dell

              I wish. They don't sell them in the SF Bay area. I had to order a fancy can through the mail from Fresno, Ca.

              Once I went through the supermarket brands (bottom of the list), I started looking for them in ethic and fancy food stores. I'm looking at the Eastern European sardines with trepidation ... you just don't think Poland and sardines, although that's where Bumblebee is from ... one of the lower rated brands.

            2. Am I too late? Just got back from france today. Ducked into the discount hypermarche in Carcassonne to pick up some French sardines for you to try. The shelf space devoted to sardines was a wonder to behold---so stunning that I forgot to shop for foie gras. I didn't have time to look at every sardine brand and just scanned the shelves to find the most expensive ones and picked from those. One can is marked "preparation a l'ancienne" with an expiration date of 01/2011 and the other one is filets but I picked it because it's labelled with the fishing date, name of the boat and the expiration date is 23/08/2009. I suspect it may be infanticide to taste them so young.

              8 Replies
              1. re: Melanie Wong

                So cool ... it is never too late ... I suspect this will be some sort of lifetime pursuit ... there's always a new can on some grocery shelf.

                I haven't got my can yet, but the only French sardine I could find locally was one brand from a place in Fresno. I'll know I've gone over the top in this little crawl when I buy a ticket to Paris for sardines ... with a stop in New York to check out Fairway.

                1. re: rworange

                  A quick drop-in to DEAN & DELUCA (Broadway & Prince Street - SOHO) might also be helpful...they've been known to carry a healthy selection of French.

                  1. re: rworange

                    Here's the info on the filets. The other, sardines de Bretagne a l'huile d'olive are the same brand, but I don't see the exact packaging and contents on the website. Maybe it's a special pack for Leclerc.

                    Link: http://www.connetable.com/nos_produit...

                    Image: http://www.connetable.com/upload/prod...

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      You are just so great.

                      I mail-ordered the red can of Connetable from the Modesto place. That was the only one they had. I bought 2 cans ... one to eat and one to age ... heh. Maybe if they are any good I'll buy a bunch and open them periodically.

                      For anyone in the Bay Area, here's where I bought my sardines

                      Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                      1. re: rworange

                        The Connetable sardines you covet are part of certain menus of French Army field rations -- almost worth joining the Foreign Legion:

                        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ek0iQR...

                  2. re: Melanie Wong

                    I believe that France has six or seven brands of exceptional sardines: Rodel, the Saint Georges brand of La Belle Illoise, Albert Menes, Les Dieux from ST Gilles Croix de Vie, Les Mouettes d'Arvor (not my favourites), La Quiberonnaise (not my favourite).
                    I prefer the St Georges brand and the Rodel brand.
                    Plrase note that sardines prepared with an other oil than olive oil are definitely not as good as the ones prepared with a good quality olive oil.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      should not use the word "infanticide" to describe your sardine tasting ventures. but if you must "infanticidal" is a better choice.

                      Help. Is the date on the can the expiration date or the packing date? I bought an Imported by Food International Supply Corp. (FISCO) of Fremont, CA. Packed by Pinhais & Co. Lda., Matosinmos, Portugal sardines but don't know if it's still good.

                      1. re: twolips

                        Somewhere in all of this is the fact that people, especially the French, age sardines for years like fine wine. So they should not only be good, they should be better.

                    2. Wonderful post!

                      Back in the 70's we used to scarf sardines--Beach Cliff, the only brand we could find in our area then--on Sierra backpacking trips. Nothing like Stoned Wheat Thins and sardines with chilis at 10,000 feet!

                      Also glad to learn I've been aging sardines--thought I was just hoarding them! Who knew....

                      thanks so much for a very entertaining and enlightening post. A labor of love....I'll be on the lookout for Angelo's.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: toodie jane

                        My faves also-Beachcliff "Fish Steaks" in hot sauce or in oil and hot peppers. With crackers. And beer. Also King Oscar kippered herring and smoked oysters.

                        1. re: flavrmeistr

                          The King Oscar kippers are very good! Brunswick too salty for me, anyway, but love the King Oscar kippers. Season also makes a very good kipper product but I can only find it at Sweetbay grocery stores. For the sardines, I'm pretty happy with the Brunswick in Olive Oil, though I do also like the Vigo in tomato sauce. yay for little oily fishies!

                      2. Please tell me where I can find the Matiz Gallego Sardines in olive oil for $2.99 a can? I love these sardines and agree that they are one of the best. I live in San Francisco.

                        Thank you,

                        Irma

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Irma Aguirre

                          Not in SF, but at the Spanish Table in Berkeley or Marin.

                        2. p
                          Paul Robbins

                          my favorite, fortunately for me, is King Oscar brisling sardines in water without added salt. The reason a say "fortunately" is that I am on a salt resticted diet.

                          Does anyone know a good source in Orange County, Ca or a good web supplier?

                          1. RWOrange, Not that you haven't been deligent, but there is one more canned fish option you should try: Salazones Serrano Filetes De Boqueron Al Ajillo. These are imported from Spain
                            (available at www.spanishtable.com) These are not as far in the Sardine family as they are in the Norwegian herring family. They taste bright and fresh like pickled herring yet have the oil\seasoning of sardines. These could be exceptional over warm, fresh pasta with parsley and olive oil. Worth seeking out to complete your culinary journey.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Leper

                              Thanks Leper, I've added this to my tips file and will pick up a can when I'm next at Spanish Table. Will report back in a future sardine post.

                              1. re: Leper

                                Thanks. I'll have to try that brand. Spanish Table is in my neighborhood. I was gifted with some boquerones from Spain when butterfly visited her family in the US. They were really nice.

                              2. When I was a kid in Chicago we used to get "Nice" brand skinless-boneless Portugese sardines. I don't see these anymore since relocating to the Southwest. Anyone know what happened to them -- I tried Google and came up with nothing useful.

                                1. Posted on another thread, but after reading this one, I wanted to add my thoughts on one brand whose sardines are meaty, tasty, and of high quality -"Season" brand. If you don't mind just getting the pure taste of the sardine (tasted tuna-like) without any sauce, I'd recommend this brand - make sure you get the boned and skinless version. If you are lucky, you will get the one packed in olive oil. Most packages I have seen recently for this brand contain soy or soya oil. The oil is ok, but obviously not as delicious as the olive oil.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: FelafelBoy

                                    Fairway (Long Island, NY) has these at 3 for $5 often. I make hand rolls at my desk at work with them.

                                     
                                    1. re: FelafelBoy

                                      Great to know, I just bought a a can of Season yesterday ... IIRC it was at Mollie Stone's ... could have been Safeway though. Wherever had 4 varieties ... two types in olive oil ... one regular olive oil the other extra virgin olive oil ... glad to know I can look foward to them. Always like finding a new brand.

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        rworange - Your description got me to look more closely at the selection at the local Giant supermarket near me, and I, too, saw the EVOO version and some others, but there was no mention of "skinless and boneless". I have found that their boneless and skinless are more desirable. I had a tin last night, and even though it was emersed in soya oil, the sardines were delicious, very meaty but tender, and a very pleasant flavor. The soya oil was ok.

                                        I noticed that the sardines packed in EVOO and the ones in mustard sauce and other sauces originated from Portugal, I believe, not Morocco, like some of their other sardine products.

                                      2. re: FelafelBoy

                                        Hi, FelafelBoy!
                                        Season has been my favorite brand for a long time...better than any others I have tried, including the highly regarded Angelo Parodi brand. I completely agree with you that the skinless-boneless version in olive oil is their best. I am in Southern California and have had no difficulty finding the Season brand sardines in our local markets.

                                        My favorite "recipe" is to place the sardines on a plate, crumple saltines on top (to absorb some of the oil), squeeze a lemon on that mix and then top it all with a favorite hot sauce!

                                        1. re: liu

                                          I know this is old but I just wanted to throw in my 2 cents.

                                          I just tried the Season Boneless Skinless sardines in OO, and yes, it is very meaty and tuna-y. And I hate that.

                                          If I want my sardines to taste like tuna, I'll buy tuna. I want my sardines to be fishy and intense, almost as if I'm eating an anchovy. I like the skin and I like the bones.

                                          Just goes to show - everyone's tastes are unique and it's worth it to find your own personal favorite. This thread has definitely inspired me to keep trying different brands. Thank you rworange!

                                          1. re: joonjoon

                                            Hi, joonjoon!
                                            I read your post with interest. This is a year later and I still like these Season Skinless-Boneless sardines. I am glad, however, to read of another opinion. You are quite right: we all have such different tastes.

                                            You mentioned tuna and I have been on a tuna quest-for-the-best for a few years. I finally landed when I found Callipo brand tuna:

                                            http://www.callipo.com/en/products/ve...

                                            Your point is well taken; I do like sardines that are "meaty and tuna-y," as you described...so I am closer to the tuna than the anchovy. You said it all so well, joonjoon!

                                      3. Calgirl 15 oz. tomato and chilli.

                                        1. This is one of the best CH threads ever.

                                          Thanks. Is there any reason you left out Granadisa skinless and boneless in the green and white box? Are these only imported into the NYC area?

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: erica

                                            Just haven't seen them yet. In the past year, there isn't a sardine brand I've snubbed including the dread Mexican 666 sardines ... or maybe that was 999. Doesn't matter ... that is another Mexican sardine brand from hell.

                                            1. re: rworange

                                              Thanks! They are widely available here in NYC so I was just wondering. Skinless and boneless, though. Spelling is Granadaisa; from Morocco, imported by King Seafoods, New Jersey. Here is a photo:

                                              http://www.foodfacts.com/public/items...

                                          2. Just tried Royal Crown with tomato and chili from Ecuador and was shocked at how fresh they tasted were even gutted too which I rarely see from cheap sardines.I smashed them on 9 grain bread.

                                            1. Thanks for your tireless research! I know you're not partial to the boneless/skinless variety, but which of those ranks highest?

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Sarah

                                                I don't have an answer. I only tried one can in the taste-off - King Oscar.Based on that and the skinless/bonless cans I've had over the years, I decided I didn't want to try any more of that type.

                                                However, FelafelBoy's enthusiasm for those Season skinless and boneles sardines has me interested and I'll definately give those a try.

                                              2. rworange, did u taste them straight out of a can or with crackers?

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: hhc

                                                  Straight from the can ... sometimes with tomatoes and lettuce

                                                2. Just wanted to report 2 things:
                                                  1) I finally got a chance to try fresh (not canned) sardines. They had some a while back at the 17th St Market here in Tucson. Just grilled them, and even thought they were a bit of a pain to eat I have to say that they were the absolute most tasty fresh fish I've ever had.
                                                  2) Although they aren't labled "sardines" the Riga Sprats (from Latvia) appear to me to be identical fish to the Brisling sardines like King Oscar, Tiny Tots, etc. They're reasonable good and relatively inexpensive. Packed in something like Canola oil instead of olive oil though, which is a bit of a turnoff.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: wetbaloney

                                                    Yep, fresh are good. Sort of like the difference between fresh and canned tuna.

                                                    Somewhere buried in all of this I had a link about the difference between sprats and sardines. I think it is based on size. However, I agree the taste is like sardines.

                                                    1. re: rworange

                                                      Riga sprats or sardines are my favorite and I go through one can a week!

                                                    2. re: wetbaloney

                                                      Ha, i can get a pack of Poruguese Frozen Sardines, they are big, but quickly grilled are delicious, first though you must remove their heads, gut them and rinse.

                                                      Afterwards the kitchen is 'Fishy', then the dishwasher is 'Fishy' and needs an empty cycle with baking soda or somesuch.

                                                      I will keep them for my BBQ.. having said that, they are most wonderful to eat (and good for you)

                                                    3. The only drawback is that few of these brands are available in this part of the world (Singapore), though I've seen the odd King Oscar around in the supermarkets. I will have to start searching in the Italian imports stores.

                                                      1. When I was living in Asia , we used to buy a brand called Porthos (Portuguese) they came in a spicy sauce and also in a mustard sauce. Have never had any that tasted better

                                                        Am going to try to find some of the ones mentioned in this thread. I enjoy sardines with interesting crackers , olives , sharp cheese , and some tasty red wine

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: tk467

                                                          Thinking about this, it is not so much the brand, but the origin. There's distinctive tastes from different regions. I like the taste of the Spain/Portugual/Italy sardines the best. They are different from sardines caught in Thai, Mexican, Norweigan, or North American waters. Each has its distict taste and sometimes style.

                                                          Sardines are inexpensive, so the fun thing is picking up some can you've never seen before and giving it a try. You never know what unexpected treasure you might find.

                                                          And if you do find something wonderful to you, report back. Someone else in your part of the world may be reading.

                                                          1. re: tk467

                                                            Porthos is also my favorite brand. My parents just got back from HK yesterday and brought back a case for me that my aunt in Macau got for me. Good stuff!!! I hope my stash lasts until my parents' next HK trip in April.

                                                          2. I don't have access to a large variety, but I've come across a brand I like. They are Goya skinless Spanish fillets in olive oil.

                                                            If you've tried them, where would they rate on your list?

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: bkhuna

                                                              Haven't tried Goya yet ... not that I remember ... site is too slow for me to search my report on cans 31 - 49. Will keep an eye out for them. Thanks

                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                FYI, didn't find Goya in your report on cans 40-49, which is here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/320712

                                                                PS: thanks for doing this! It has encouraged me to give all the sardines I come across a try! (and gives me a great excuse to stock up on good crackers and cheese to go with it. Mmm...cheese...*drool*)

                                                              2. re: bkhuna

                                                                I have tried Goya sardines in olive oil and they are excellent-fat, fishy and firm, as well as silvery and lovely to look at. I enjoy all things fishy, my favorite being landlocked salmon roe in the fall, panfried. The eggs pop in your mouth. One has to catch the fish first...so they are not available in stores. Yum!

                                                              3. Excellent report. I shall follow these tips. One issue though: I've bought sardines from Angelo Parodi and usually love it. Once in a while I get a bad can. It has filled a hole in my life, with the lack of fresh sardines.

                                                                1. I am surprised to see Bela so far down, in my opinion these are the best. I would definately rank them higher than King Oscar, but perhaps my palate is slightly different. Of course I cannot seem to find the top three anywhere, so my opinion of those will have to wait. This is one of the best write ups I have seen posted anywhere about sardines. They are such a healthy over looked delicacy.

                                                                  1. the absolutely best sardines I have ever had were purchased in Madrid at the Lidl Store and were 59 euro cents a can. They were Nixe Brand in olive oil and were fabulous. The only reason I've developed a taste for sardines is the the are cheap and pack a nutritional wallop
                                                                    and they are uncontaminated by mercury poisons. Now if only I could find them in the USA.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: arggie

                                                                      In supermarkets in Spain, tinned fish has its own aisle. Overwhelming!

                                                                      1. re: arggie

                                                                        arggie, thanks for this information. We have the same brand at the Lidl in London where I shop.

                                                                        I know there are Aldi stores in the US, so it might be worth checking those for European sardines.

                                                                      2. What about Casa Lusa brand? From Portugal, exported by Tradifoods, LDA. The plain ones are good, and the flavored ones are just right--light but not overwhelming in lemon or lightly smoiked in hot sauce.

                                                                        1. any time i see bela or matiz, i stock up.
                                                                          sadly, i used to live in boston near a trader joe's, and had lots of options.
                                                                          now i am in austin and the local groceries don't have a great supply.
                                                                          i loooooooove sardines, even in different sauces (chile, lemon & olive oil, tomato, etc.).
                                                                          you know, as long as it's good.

                                                                          if i visited spain, i would fill up an entire suitcase of tinned fish!
                                                                          except for that ridiculously expensive anthony bourdain: no reservations stuff.
                                                                          who can afford $300 a tin? not me, that's for freakin' sure.

                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                          1. re: dinaofdoom

                                                                            which stuff is this Bourdain sardine jar? I saw something on the show covering Brittany. I agree that that price is much too high.

                                                                            1. re: epop

                                                                              tony ate some retardedly expensive tinned clams.
                                                                              espaliner was the company, and they have all sorts of offerings, including some not-too-expensive sardines:
                                                                              http://www.espinaler.es/ListaProducto...

                                                                                1. re: epop

                                                                                  one problem: they don't ship to the US. Have you seen them anywhere here in the States?

                                                                                  1. re: epop

                                                                                    sorries, not sure.
                                                                                    i will keep searching the internets.

                                                                              1. re: epop

                                                                                I was wondering the same thing but if you can't get to that specific store in Brittany your are not going to get those sardines. I'm guessing the owner won't be bothered shipping bc ha sells everything he makes out of the store. They did look tasty.

                                                                            2. my local supermarket had some brunswick on clearance so i stocked up on the olive oil varieties.
                                                                              they were middling.
                                                                              not the best, but certainly not the worst.
                                                                              each can had about 3-4 fishies.

                                                                              pet peeve of anything labeled as "with olive oil": soybean oil should not be a part of that!
                                                                              the hot pepper? not hot at all, but at least a little flavorful.
                                                                              the regular olive oil ones were kinda bland so i doused them with hot sauce (i do, after all, live in texas!) and they were absolutely delish.

                                                                              my cats also appreciated all that fishy oil.

                                                                              i have to say, i am always partial to anything in a sauce, even if it's just lemon and oil.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: dinaofdoom

                                                                                I had some sardines on a bagel today...it was absolutely decisious. I started with an everything bagel, and...

                                                                                Schmeared some cream cheese
                                                                                Add capers and scallions
                                                                                Tomatos
                                                                                Pickled onions
                                                                                Sardines on top.

                                                                                YUM!

                                                                                By the way - what do you guys do with the olive oil that the fish comes packed in? Are there any uses for that?

                                                                                1. re: joonjoon

                                                                                  That sounds delicious.

                                                                                  Usually I just eat sardines on lettuce with tomatoes so I dress the salad with the oil.

                                                                                  When I had cats, I would give whatever liquid the sardines was packed in to them. Oddly enough the last cat Ihad hated sardines. That cat ate everything else and had a passion for tiramisu, but would not touch sardines and would stalk off in disgust. If only she ate more wisely she might have lived longer than 18 years.

                                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                                    one recipe I came up with and love for sardines is as follows.. take unflavored sardines, drain and drop in a food processor. Add about the same weight in strong onion. add enough mayo to hold it all together and process. Spoon onto crackers of your choice adding a well in the center for your favorite hot sauce. (Green Tobasco for me !)
                                                                                    I have also tried this with canned salmon and tuna but the sardines are far better IMO. Hope you enjoy.

                                                                              2. I think Trader Joe's sardines in olive oil are the best and I have purchased many of the brands mentioned.

                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                1. re: nizerstein

                                                                                  Niz, I am visiting my son in fabulous unbelievably beautiful San Francisco this week, and tried the TJ's sardines in olive oil...VERY good and meaty...plus they're from Portugal! Can says lightly smoked but I could not detect any smoke flavor. I think one 4 ounce can was $1.79. Nicely low-sodium too.

                                                                                  1. re: nizerstein

                                                                                    Were they TJ brand? I only found Matiz when I was there.

                                                                                    1. re: runwestierun

                                                                                      Yes, it's a pink can that says Trader Joe's Lightly Smoked Sardines in Olive Oil, 4.24 ounces...there's no wrapper (another good thing about it, less waste), just the pink can.

                                                                                      1. re: Val

                                                                                        years ago, they carried matiz brand so now maybe they are having matiz or another cannery brand their own label (see also CW article on where TJ food comes from).

                                                                                        the matiz brand had several different styles, and all were quite delicious.
                                                                                        the lemon and olive oil was particularly nice for a salad.
                                                                                        and the tomato sauced ones were so good on their own.

                                                                                    2. re: nizerstein

                                                                                      It's my favorite! I eat them 2-3 times a week.

                                                                                    3. Who would have thought? Sardines? I thought I was the only one who had this thing with them. A secret pleasure, now I have all kinds of ideas. One not mentioned is bruchetta, toasted with sardines and roasted red peppers on top. No one has mentioned how good they are for you. Delicious, relatively low cal and loaded with omega, calcium (eat the bones), AND a great snack. And thanks for all the great ideas, everyone. .

                                                                                      1. One of the best posts ever! I am going to revisit at a later date to read in more detail but for now I'm off to go eat a can of sardines in olive oil! Mmmm.

                                                                                        1. Upon recently becoming pregnant (4th child) I have been thoroughly researching further on a recently discovered favorite health website and just discovered the great health benefits from sardines (the vitamin A) for pregnant women. Good thing because I've been craving and consuming them every day. My skin is even beginning to get that healthy glow. You might find this article interesting, for the section about sardines scroll down to small fish, although the entire article is fascinating.
                                                                                          http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens...
                                                                                          There are some great ideas for serving sardines here as well.

                                                                                          1. As most of you sardine fans are aware, "sardines" can be one of many small fishes of the herring family. One of them, "sardinops sagax caerulea," or Pacific Sardine, was nearly fished out along the California coast in the 40's. Lately, however, they have made a comeback and a handful of environmentally friendly companies are canning these tasty fish again. One of them, "Wild Planet," is considered a best choice for sustainability by a consensus of environmental organizations. My favorite is their Wild Sardines in extra virgin olive oil. They are lightly smoked, meaty, firm and mild..and delicious.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: cshean

                                                                                              I thought the last can or box of Wild Planet I looked at said product of Thailand...? Could that be right? I can only find this at Whole Foods and will check again very soon. That stopped me last time from buying. I think they are processed in California but the fish come from Thailand...I might be confusing it with another brand but I don't think so.

                                                                                              1. re: Val

                                                                                                I'm not sure about the Tuna, but the Sardines are wild caught in California and canned in Vietnam. This is pretty typical nowadays because of the lower processing costs. For example, Norwegian Brisling Sardines ( King Oscar) are caught in Norway but processed in Poland.

                                                                                            2. Here's a trick I recently learned - use the leftover oil from sardine cans to cook with. It imparts a nice depth of flavor much like anchovies do.

                                                                                              1. Absolutely no two ways about it, KING OSCAR Norwegian Tiny Tots are the undisputed champs in this catagory. Used to be reasonably priced, nowdays, they're almost unaffordable:

                                                                                                 
                                                                                                 
                                                                                                1. Has anyone gotten a bunch of cans that contain completely unscaled fish? I really like sardines, and the skin and bones are no problem, but scales are no fun. The fish should be at least mostly scaled, correct?

                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Chowhobostyle

                                                                                                    Sounds strange...aren't they too small for scales? What brand sells them like that? I've had many brands, probably not as many as others above, though.

                                                                                                    1. re: Val

                                                                                                      They are Bela Lightly Smoked Portuguese Sardines in Olive Oil w/ Cayenne. I think it must be just an off batch, because I've had this brand before, and they had no scales.

                                                                                                      1. re: Chowhobostyle

                                                                                                        oh yes, I've had that brand, in fact, Whole Foods had them on sale $2 per can and I like the olive oil w/ lemon...I only bought 2 cans but neither had scales...must have been "off" as you said.

                                                                                                        1. re: Val

                                                                                                          Glad to know as I just saw the Bela sardines at my local health food store and had to try them. Retailed at $3.19, the same price as King Oscar in my area (Michigan). It is the prettiest packaging of any canned sardine I have ever seen.

                                                                                                          1. re: serapharia

                                                                                                            yes, the can is pretty..LOL...and I like it when they don't use wrappers AROUND the can...such wasteful packaging...Bela is up there for me...also a quirky brand that I can only find at a Polish delicatessen here in Naples, the brand is Adriatic Sun...wow, LOVE them but at $3.19 per can, it's more of a treat...my daily go-to is still Brunswick in Olive oil at $1.25 per can. The King Oscar sardines in olive oil repeat badly on me, so I don't buy them, tried them twice with the same effect.

                                                                                                            1. re: Val

                                                                                                              But King Oscar, Bumble Bee and Brunswick are all teh same packaging company...Bumblebee!!!!

                                                                                                              check out their website...

                                                                                                  2. I've found I prefer the smaller sardine - it seems that the bigger they get, the more obvious the backbone and stringy thing.

                                                                                                    My low carb diet has me eating several cans a week, straight out of the can. Costco carries Wild Planet which has good flavor, but they are a bit on the large size. Trader Joe's brand are inedible.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: moglodite

                                                                                                      TJ's MUST have changed their supplier, last 2 cans had SCALES <ack!> on the fish so won't buy them anymore I guess. Whole Foods has the Wild Planet sardines on sale this week $2.50 per can, just fyi.

                                                                                                    2. Any one try 'Ligo' sardines from the Phillipines? You can see a photo of the can by Goggling Canned Sardine Photos.

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                        They're OK. Last time I bought them it was just for the cool can label. "LIGO" stands for "Liberty Gold," an old canning company out of San Francisco. They always had great label art.

                                                                                                      2. hey where can i get the madrigal???

                                                                                                          1. Just enjoyed a tin of Adriatic Sun brand sardines in olive oil. Product of Croatia, picked up for $2.39 at a local Croatian grocery in Milwaukee, upon the proprietor's recommendation. Excellent product! Large fish, single layer, maybe 6 in all. Not skinless, and not labeled as boneless, but if they weren't filleted, then they had the most inconspicuous little skeletal structure I've ever encountered in a non-deboned Sardinia pilchardus. Very tasty, delightful delicate flavor, neither the skin nor the cartilage the least bit disagreeable. Swimming in delicious olive oil. Maybe a slight bit salty, but they're saltwater creatures, right?
                                                                                                            I'll definitely return for more of these, to vary my usual fare of Roland skinless and boneless in olive oil. At only 40c more, quite worthwhile.

                                                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Vegamite

                                                                                                              Yes! I can only find the Adriatic Sun at a little Polish deli here in Naples...VERY good sardines! I actually brought some to my father in law last year since his ethnic background is Croatian! He eats sardines every Friday for his lunch with a tomato & greens salad...he's 90!

                                                                                                              1. re: Val

                                                                                                                Are the 'sardines' canned in Asia a different species than Mediterranean ones?
                                                                                                                Having had both I'd always go with the Med. ones.
                                                                                                                Just wondering about the species.

                                                                                                                1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                  Puffin, I doubt I would know if I'd ever eaten an Asian sardine...Wild Planet sardines are pretty darned good and I *believe* they are packed in Vietnam???? will have to check on that, ok website says they are CAUGHT in the Pacific Ocean...does that make them Asian sardines?? <shrug> though I adore the King Oscar double layer ones too .. AND the Adriatic Sun, so maybe I am partial to the Mediterranean sardines. Interesting question you posed...wish I knew the answer!

                                                                                                                  1. re: Val

                                                                                                                    Anyone try these sardines from China?

                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                    1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                      I've never dared try sardines in anything but the familiar flat tin. It's the way they were introduced to me in my childhood, and I think I'll just stick with it!

                                                                                                                      1. re: Vegamite

                                                                                                                        TB did an episode from Spain or Portugal, I think, where he and his friend go into a small store and sample the glass jarred (vertical) sardines. He was VERY impressed! Anyone know the name of this episode? The man only made a small yearly batch and there were never any left to sell anywhere but from his shop. Pretty cool.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                        I haven't tried that brand specifically, but ate various types of sardines in a cylindrical 155g tin.
                                                                                                                        I recall NuPack from Thailand. Standard run-of-the-mill sardines

                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                        1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                          Speaking of the cylindrical tin....from a Chinese market, I found 555 brand Chili Squid. Inexpensive and delicious they're from the Philippines.

                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                2. Just stumbled on this thread. Does anyone have a BPA free can version they love? I usually buy Wild Planet but occasionally get the BPA free Crown Prince ones. Wild Planet sardines are tasty and big and meaty. I go for the Crown prince when i want the smaller ones.

                                                                                                                  1. I've been a long time Brunswick and Beach Cliff sardine consumer. Thanks for giving me more varieties to consider.

                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: DaChowMaster_99

                                                                                                                      this is an old post-it maybe time for a new one.

                                                                                                                    2. Hi! Can you tell, all those sardines, are they with scales in tins or producers clean them?

                                                                                                                      1. Have you ever tried the El Mexicano Sardinas in spicy tomato sauce in the 15 oz.can? I see them in the store but haven't bought any. The price sure is right. Just wondering. . .

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: Tim_Parker

                                                                                                                          Hey Tim...the price of those sardines is right this is true...but only if your not concerned with the quality of the fish inside...packed in a tasteless tomato sauce and the fish is as firm as wood...thumbs down for me.