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Quality sardines at retail?

MC Slim JB Oct 27, 2009 12:07 PM

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


  1. ChefJune Oct 27, 2009 12:47 PM

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

    1. itaunas Oct 27, 2009 01:08 PM

      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. steinpilz Oct 27, 2009 03:30 PM

        Courthouse had them the past two Fridays.

        8 Replies
        1. re: steinpilz
          galleygirl Oct 27, 2009 03:51 PM

          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
            MC Slim JB Oct 27, 2009 07:23 PM

            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
              galleygirl Oct 28, 2009 04:36 PM

              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
                another_adam Oct 28, 2009 05:43 PM

                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
                  galleygirl Oct 28, 2009 06:20 PM

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

              2. re: galleygirl
                deglazer Oct 29, 2009 06:35 AM

                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 http://colestrout.com/. Don't know where it's sold retail but Bar Harbor is also interesting http://www.barharborfoods.com/wild-ca...

                1. re: deglazer
                  galleygirl Oct 29, 2009 06:44 AM

                  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
                    galleygirl Nov 4, 2009 06:18 AM

                    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. a
              alsaman Oct 28, 2009 07:06 PM

              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
                nomadgirl Nov 7, 2009 10:15 PM

                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
                  MC Slim JB Nov 7, 2009 10:39 PM

                  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
                    jajjguy Nov 8, 2009 01:38 PM

                    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
                    alsaman Nov 24, 2009 01:43 PM

                    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. cassoulady Oct 29, 2009 08:40 AM

                  If you drive, try captain mardens in wellesley.

                  Captain Marden
                  279 Linden St, Wellesley, MA 02482

                  1. galleygirl Nov 8, 2009 06:40 AM

                    My latest find, MC; whole frozen, Portuguese sardines, head to tail, for $3.99 a one pound bag at Market Basket. Gonsalves brand. I'll report my findings.

                    1. s
                      skordalia Nov 8, 2009 08:31 AM

                      They frequently have excellent fresh sardines from Greece or Portugal at the Roslindale Fish Market, but I think it's more of a summer thing. As always with them, call ahead.

                      1. r
                        RoyRon Nov 8, 2009 01:30 PM

                        Court House Fish Market in Cambridge has them regularly and the ones I have bought have always been excellent in terms of freshness.

                        Fish Market
                        170 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA 02134

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: RoyRon
                          chovies Nov 9, 2009 05:05 AM

                          I was in WF on Cambridge St. yesterday and they had beautiful fresh whole sardines. Unfortunately I was already committed to making a Basque seafood stew so didn't try them, but they looked very good.

                        2. s
                          sultanp Nov 15, 2009 06:12 PM

                          I actually just bought some fresh sardines at H-Mart in Burlington this morning.

                          Package of 4 fish (labeled: "Saltines").

                          Had to gut and clean and take care of the bones. Pretty tasty.

                          3 Old Concord Rd, Burlington, MA 01803

                          1. heathermb Nov 24, 2009 02:54 PM

                            I've had success getting them from the WFM on River Street - also, the gentleman at the fish counter was nice enough to clean and scale them for me.

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