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Oct 27, 2009 12:07 PM

Quality sardines at retail?

I'm looking for them, fresh or canned. Ideas?

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  1. for fresh, Courthouse Seafood in Cambridge should have them if they're available. May not be in season right now.

    1. At this time of year its not something to plan around, but call Courthouse on Wednesdays and see if they are getting some in (usually Thursdays) and they will hold them for pickup if you ask nicely. Some still are fished in Portugal through November and sometimes later, but its the tail end of the season. They also have slightly better frozen (Demoula's carries a lot of frozen, but they aren't gutted before freezing and can be very iffy).

      Courthouse, Fernandes Fish Market, Broadway Market... all have decent canned options from Portugal in both Olive Oil and Tomato sauce. Stop and Shop in Somerville also has a slightly better selection in Demoula's.

      1. Courthouse had them the past two Fridays.

        8 Replies
        1. re: steinpilz

          Yep, they come in on Thursday...They're getting bigger, so it may be the end of the season...

          For a large selection of canned sardines, visit Hi Lo Market, in JP...I feel like such a failure that I never visited before today, but they have 4 or 5 varieties of each canned fish, a lottah love...
          Right now, my favorite canned sardines (always subject to change) are a variety they have in the Kosher aisle of Stop and Shop. I think they come from Spain, and they have several varieties packed in water, which for me, and sardines, is key.

          1. re: galleygirl

            Water, eh? This is interesting, as a lot of the Chowhound coverage prefers canned sardines packed in olive oil.


            How are they different?


            1. re: MC Slim JB

              Just personal preference; I can do w/out the extra calories!
              They often seem less fishy, and more of the flavor of the sardine comes thru. Also, I can dress them as I like...
              Those old threads have got me all riled up to eat more canned sardines, tho; I saw a few varieties I'll have to look for!
              This is the package from the kosher brand I like, BTW...Noth the exact water-acked one, tho...The packages are in several different colors...

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                We were recently on a canned sardines kick, and the season sardines are the new favorites around here, too! (The previous standby had been Ligo in spicy tomato sauce, but those seem to have gone downhill over the years or something) In fact, after a recent accidental acquisition of a water-packed tin, we were just debating the relative merits of water-packed vs. oil-packed.

                Anyway, though not necessarily close or convenient, H-Mart might be a source of fresh ones- I still haven't made it to the Burlington location, but I've bought some terrific mid-sized ones at other H-Marts...

                3 Old Concord Rd, Burlington, MA 01803

                1. re: another_adam

                  Yeah, I didin't realize I was in the Kosher aisle when I bought them, I thought all sardines were they are really non-fishy...

              2. re: galleygirl

                Agree on the Hi-Lo. Note that they have canned sardines etc. in two sections of the store. They have a couple of brands from Spain in racks near the back corner across from the soda. Interesiting things like cuttlefish in ink. etc.
                Haven't been in awhile but Formaggio carries high end stuff from spain and from Coles Trout Don't know where it's sold retail but Bar Harbor is also interesting

                1. re: deglazer

                  Bar Harbor is sold at Whole Foods, (and sometimes HomeGoods); they're pretty darn good- all their products. Their canned clams are absolutely the best on the market.

                  I've had the upscale Matiz sardines from Formaggio, an I wasn't impressed...

                  I'm working my way thru a selection of the canned octopus and cuttlefish from the Corner Canned Goods at Hi-Lo...Did I mention I love that place?

                  1. re: galleygirl

                    Damn you, MC, now I'm working my way thru a selection of canned sardines from HiLo...In particular, a number of the little tall cans packed in tomato sauce. Very inexpensive, low in calories, and, as a bonus for you, the ones they seem to use for sardine banh mi. Some of these, on baguette, with a little fresh cilantro, summons up the taste.

            2. I've been eating canned sardines for years and the best ones I've found (although I certainly haven't tasted as many as RWOrange) that are readily available are the Gonsalves brand - spicy packed in oil. The Somerville Market Basket sells them in the Portuguese/Mexican section and not where the rest of the sardines are kept. There are a few varieties - in tomato sauce, oil, and spicy. The spicy ones are packed with a thin slice of carrot, cucumber, a small hot pepper and 1-2 cloves. I haven't tried the Matiz Gallego or Idamar ones that RWOrange ranked # 1 & 2 in his second post, so I can't compare to those.

              4 Replies
              1. re: alsaman

                What do you do with canned sardines? I'm a huge anchovy fan, but have only had fresh grilled sardines (on the Medit. coast). Would love to try -- any suggestions?

                1. re: nomadgirl

                  What I did for my college football tailgate last weekend was make sandwiches of good baguette, butter on one side, yellow mustard on the other, mandoline-thin slices of Vidalia onion, arugula, and canned Portuguese sardines. Half my crew loved them, half just balked at the idea of a sardine sandwich. We had plenty of other good things to eat, too.


                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    That sounds great! I've always just put them on hearty toasted bread with lots of mustard. I'll give your dressed-up version a try.

                  2. re: nomadgirl

                    Growing up in an Asian family, it was common to have fish during breakfast, something that many western palates are not used to having. A classic, comfort dish for me is rice with a fried egg (over easy) and sardines with hot sauce. Rice and eggs is a combo seen in other dishes that may be familiar - I'm thinking bi bim bap (not what I had growing up but a close approximation). Substitute sardines for the pork or beef that's usually in bi bim bap and viola - rice, eggs and sardines. Yum!!

                2. If you drive, try captain mardens in wellesley.

                  Captain Marden
                  279 Linden St, Wellesley, MA 02482