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Mar 7, 2010 10:10 AM

Please help me like Sardines!

I"m reading the April issue of Eating Well (with the avocado on the cover) and I'm reminded once again how economical and healthy, as well as sustainably fished, sardines are.

I can't stand canned can I like sardines? Are they available canned in a less strongly flavored/less oily way? How do you cook them fresh? Any ideas?


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  1. If you live in a fancy enough metropolis, you might find salt-packed sardines, which I hear are very fine. I happened to see Alton Brown's show recently and this unusual recipe using the canned variety. It's a sardine-avocado open-faced sandwich, way heart healthy and light:

    1 (3.75-oz) tin sardines in water
    1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
    1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
    1 teaspoon vegetable oil
    1/2 lemon
    Kosher salt
    Freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 ripe medium avocado
    2 slices whole wheat bread

    1) Drain the sardines, reserving 1 tablespoon of sardine water. Zest the lemon, but reserve the fruit itself for later. Toast the bread.

    2) In a small bowl combine sardines, reserved sardine water, parsley, vinegar, vegetable oil, lemon zest, a little salt, and a little pepper. Mash the sardines with a fork until you have a fairly chunky spread.

    3) In a separate small bowl or on a small plate, mash the avocado with a fork until it becomes a fairly chunky spread.

    4) Spread the sardine mixture on the pieces of bread. Spread each with avocado. Top with a little salt, a little pepper, and a good squeeze of the lemon. Serve.

    1. Sardines are far milder than anchovies, and you can get them in pepper sauce or mustard sauce, if you prefer that to oil.

      I prefer boneless/skinless sards deposited on saltines and then tabbed with spicy, brown mustard. A cheap, delicious delight.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Perilagu Khan

        PK is right...but they also come in tomato sauce...Vigo brand from Spain are pretty good and I can find them at Wal-Mart and Publix, so Madrid, I see you live in the Boston area, right? You can probably find them in tomato sauce...I believe King Oscar brand also sells them in tomato sauce. Also, just try one can, whatever flavor...mustard, pepper or tomato, etc., -- you just might like them. From your post, it sounds like you've never tried them?

      2. I am a recent sardine convert, as I was bowled over by Alton Brown's recent diet show and his sardine praises. I have discovered I have (marginally) high levels of glucose and triglycerides, so I bought a treadmill AND I'm totally changing my diet, including adding at least a can of sardines, a week.

        Now, I managed to live 54 years without EVER facing down a can of the little wigglers, so it took a bit of courage to eat that first can, but now--aside from the drawbacks of a bit of burpy, fishy afterbreath <g>--I love them, already!

        I live in a rural, not foodie area, and so I have to confess that I patronize Walmart for my King Oscars (see the Jan. issue of Saveur for these, ranked among the top 100 foodie things) but the brislings (get the brislings; they're daintier and milder, and thus a more gentle introduction) in olive oil are only $2.39 a can, there. I now buy them ten at a time.

        I've tried the suggested avocado sandwich and it IS good. But when I'm in a hurry, I just eat them with low fat Triscuits (just whole wheat, salt and soybean oil; not bad for my local boring grocery store) and a dash of hot sauce (I like Tennessee Sunshine; hubby eats straight Tabasco).

        3 Replies
        1. re: Beckyleach

          I'm not crazy about canned sardines, but I do enjoy them fresh. In Portugal, they are eaten grilled over the charcoal, simply seasoned with kosher salt and served with roasted pepper and boiled potatoes. Though very simple, I believe it's the best way to enjoy the taste of sardines, specially with some extra olive oil. The best sardines are the ones caught in the months of June/July, which are fattier.
          Also, If you enjoy japanese cuisine, you might find quite a few recipes that make use of sardines and mackerel.
          Cheers! :-)

          1. re: alexzeevy

            Trust me: I'd eat a fresh sardine if I could...but in rural NW Iowa, they'd be tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail, should they ever dare to show their little fishy selves at any grocery store. Alas...

            1. re: alexzeevy

              Hear, hear! I enjoyed my first and only plate of fresh grilled sardines in the summer of 1982 at a little cafe in Lisbon. Right off the grill, dressed with some garlic oil, with crispy pommes frites, green salad and a bottle of vinho verde. Heavenly.

              As for the canned, I find the skinless to be my preference.


          2. I like sardines either way. Crown Prince boneless skinless packed in olive oil are much milder than the 'skin on' variety. I really like them and highly recommend them if you don't prefer 'skin on/bone in' variety which, depending on brand can be very 'fishy'. I've also heard that the 'skin on/bone in' is nutritionally better for you. Again, if I do buy the skin on/bone in it's also Crown Prince. Their 'brisling' sardines don't seem as fishy as other brands I've tried. Definately stay away from Beach Cliff brand if you don't like 'fishy'. Also as far as anchovy goes...From what I've read the 'white anchovy' variety is supposed to be milder that other varieties.