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Jun 24, 2012 10:23 AM

canned sardines in toronto

have researched best canned seems Matiz Gallego, Bela, King Oscar, Les Mouettes d''Arvor, and Cabo de Penas are among the best. I've tried some portugese grocery stores with no luck. Any ideas? Many thx


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  1. King Oscar is part of Connors Bros., Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick. They should be able to help via an 800 number. Their best product comes from Poland, but there are competing brands of Norwegian sardines packed in two layers such as Billionaires that should be as good, at Highland Farms or Loblaws.

    Portuguese sardines, like Spanish, are hit and miss, but various brands are in all the large grocers. They rarely have the same brand on a return visit. Best I have had was Spanish, packed in glass for about $3 from an Asian store (Soon Lee); they were actually produced in the Philippines. The Asian stores seem to have a good selection of Spanish, Portuguese, and Moroccan sardines.

    6 Replies
    1. re: jayt90

      many thanks Jay. I hadn't thought of Asian stores t

      1. re: jayt90

        How/why are Polish sardines the best? I typically by the Raincost Trading Wild Pacific Sardines in Spring Water (packed in bisphenol-A free cans - a rarity) and they test as good or better than the best I've ever had and I've tried em all.

        Just wondering - based on your taste or some other objective factor, study etc?

        1. re: Flexitarian

          I was relying on some site blurb by King Oscar when I tracked down their ownership. They were originally Norwegian, but bought by BumbleBee/Ocean, which was taken over by Connors Bros. The trend by big companies is high tech automated fish plants, and Connors supports this in Poland as well as New Brunswick and the U.S.

          As for best, I suspect the OP has looked at a list by rworange in Chow, now several years old. King Oscar appeared there, but I don't think Billionaires or Millionaires were on the list.

          The reports, all in 2006,

          Well flex, have you tried Spanish sardines in glass, with peppers? I rarely see them, can't remember the brands, but have fond memories of them.There were two or three brands at Soon Lee before they closed up at Markham and Lawrence.

          1. re: jayt90

            Well I would think that a blurb by the manufacturer might be somewhat biased. I know that amongst sardines the brisling sardines from Norway (packaged by a number of companies) are known to be extremely high quality and good tasting. I have noticed the difference with them. 'Billionaires' brand sardines are also supposed to be high quality and good tasting and I have noticed that too. The problem with sardines is that they come from many different species of fish (up to 11) with names like brisling, slid, herring, pilchard and sprats and are of varying sizes, not to mention fished at different times in their life cycle. I tend towards the smaller sardines in terms what I like in taste and texture but that's just me.

            I've been eating a can of sardines packed in spring water (and the odd time packed in oil when I can't get the former) about every 3 days, totally unadultered (yeah right out of the can), for a few years now and so I think I can tell the differences pretty well.

            I am going to see if I can find those sardines in glass in Toronto and see how I like them, if not here then when I travel. Also, I think it is important when tasting sardines to taste them with the same packaging. ie, a sardine in spring water is definitely going to taste different than one packed in oil, tomato sauce and all the other variations they seem to come in these days and therefore help to mask the underlying taste of the sardine itself.

            I get the Raincoast Trading sardines at The Big Carrot and the brisling ones all over the place when I see them.

            1. re: Flexitarian

              I buy both the Billionaire's and Raincoast Trading sardines at Loblaws. The Raincoast Trading sardines are in the health food aisles, along with their tuna and salmon cans (line caught). I buy them because I appreciate the efforts to line fish wild salmon (vs. scoop up the farmed or wild ones in nets).

              I have purchased a few types from Portugal, Spain and other countries. I get them at my local Eastern European (Polish) deli, but my Vietnamese owned stores in town also carry some. I haven't been thrilled with any of those, as the sardines, smelts, etc. often still have scales on, which I don't prefer. As well, they tend to use oils that don't thrill my tastebuds, such as soya oil, cottonseed, sunflower oil or some generic vegetable oil. My preference is olive oil, but safflower would be okay as well.

              That same Polish store carries canned herrings and other fishes, in various sauces, some of Danish origin. I've bought many but have never liked any of them. I'd prefer simple fish in oil with a bit of salt, which I can then doctor with my own sauces and seasonings, if I wish. Typically, I use the fishy olive oil from the Billionaire's (or Clover Leaf) sardines and add minced garlic. Sometimes I use the oil in a vinaigrette with grainy Dijon and thyme or basil, plus red wine vinegar or lemon juice. A delicious salad or sandwich can be made with the sardines, dressing, greens and any other salad ingredients (onion, tomato, cucumber, etc.).

              I once ordered Ortiz brand sardines, tuna and ventresca tuna (tuna belly) online. All were quite good, but very pricey. Admittedly, the source was Zingermans and they are quite $$$.

              1. re: 1sweetpea

                That's great. I didn't know Loblaws had Raincoast. Maybe they are cheaper than at The Big Carrot.

                Also, I am totally with you on not being a big fan of all those different oils. If anything I'd get the ones in olive oil. I prefer to dress my own and that way I know what I am getting and can enjoy an oil that is much higher quality than anything they would ever be using.

      2. Domino's at the very back of the lower level of the St. Lawrence Market carries an unusual and rotating variety of sardines. I've picked up various brands there over the years that I haven't seen elsewhere, from various places including Scotland, Scandinavia, Portugal, etc. I've liked some better than others (sadly I can't remember the exact brands) but it's probably a place worth checking out if you know what you're looking for.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Gary

          thanks all......I am in hot pursuit and will keep you posted

        2. Highland Farms(at least the Miss. location)has a good selection for a supermarket--several of the brands mentioned here plus some Spanish and Portuguese I've not seen for awhile. I've also been buying very sweet California small frozen squid(uncleaned)there for $5/box--Bono brand. Best I've had recently and bargain-priced.