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How do you eat pilchards (sardines)?

My love of these little fishies is ridiculous. I do not like them heated, but am looking for different ways to eat them. What is your favorite way? Any particular sauces, crackers, breads, etc?

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  1. I've tried mashing them up with some mayo, mustard, and spices, tuna salad-style, to spread on Ritz crackers or in sandwiches, but I just prefer them drained of as much oil as possible and chilled in the fridge, eaten whole with a fork.

    1. As sardines are a sort of guilty pleasure for me, I can admit to eating them straight from tin.

      1. Whole sardine with a thin slice of sweet onion, followed up by a bite of tiny cornichon.

        Also, wrapped whole in a fizzy leaf of kimchee.

        1. if you can find them fresh, drizzled with a little olive oil and grilled is divine.

          1. I like them in a salad with capers, roasted peppers and vinaigrette.

            I second th recommendation of fresh sardines. Every year, we grill up a bunch of them after marinating in wine, onions, garlic and OO. They are served with plain boiled potatoes and more OO and vinegar. YUM!

            5 Replies
            1. re: NE_Elaine

              I want to try fresh sardines but I can't find them where I am, are they pretty similar to fresh mackerel?

              I like the canned ones in oil with a squeeze of lemon, wrapped in a slice of white bread.

              1. re: RealMenJulienne

                No - they're not nearly as fishy as mackerel, believe it or not.

                The difference between tinned and fresh sardines is as profound as the difference between tinned and fresh tuna.

                1. re: RealMenJulienne

                  Can you find frozen?
                  Frozen sardines are very close to fresh. In fact, I once bought fresh but later, could not justify the cost since it tasted just like previously frozen.

                  1. re: porker

                    I'll look around, the Asian store might have em


                  2. re: RealMenJulienne

                    If you can't find them fresh, look for frozen in ethnic grocers. We get them in a Portuguese fish store, but I would think a Spanish or Italian market might have them as well.

                2. Try dredging fresh sardines in a little flour, shake off excess, let sit until the flour has turned mushy and deep fry until the flour is golden brown then eat them with a sprinkle of fresh squeezed lemon juice and Kosher salt.

                  1. I'm assuming the OP is referring to the ones in tins and not fresh pilchards/sardines.

                    In which case, my favourite way is to dust with flour and fry but I know the OP doesnt like them heated. In which case, second best is on a sandwich. Mashed with lots of pepper and malt vinegar; maybe the a few thin slices of onion. You don't want particularly high quality bread here so ordinary supermarket sliced white will be fine.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Harters

                      I recently found a few tins of sardines I had stored on our boat in a location were they must have slid down along side one of the wooden frames. I put them on the boat twenty years ago. LOL Think I should open one?

                      1. re: Puffin3

                        In a well-ventilated area, and purely out of curiousity....

                        If the tins aren't rusted or bulging, they're probably okay -- but are you really that hungry?

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          I don't see any rust or bulging. I'm going to open one just to see....................There was no 'hissing' sound and they smell ok and there's no mold. I think I'll offer them to the neighbors cat. She's the one that keeps the neighborhood awake when it's in heat. LOL

                          1. re: Puffin3

                            Theres some aged, Spanish, tinned seafood that they charge a fortune for (hundreds of dollars)....your twenty year old sardines, maybe not so much {;-/)

                    2. I used to crumble them up, and then add the contents of the can to a bowl of ramen noodles. Now I like to add them to a spinach salad.

                      Or I like to put sardines (or anchovies) onto a slice of rye or pumpernickel bread with Bermuda or Vidalia onions, hot mustard, and a thick slice of rind washed cheese. Then after I eat it, I like to sneak up on my wife and kiss her....

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: deet13


                        lol, sounds delicious to me...

                      2. Back when I had an underpaid drawing-board job in Silicon Valley, my favorite cheap lunch was a tub of cottage cheese, a can of sardines, some green onions - scallions - and Ritz crackers. I'd chop up the scallions with my X-Acto knife (#11 blade) and stir those into the cottage cheese, then break up a couple of the sardines with a plastic spoon from the coffee area and put them in there too, and then scoop bites out with the crackers. Tried to keep replenishing the sardine content so as to run out of everything at once, although a box of crackers would last maybe three lunches. A bit off-topic, but smoked oysters were a favorite alternative …

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Will Owen

                          What is it about drafting-board jobs? (besides underpaid.) Sardines and cottage cheese, with fresh ground black pepper, have been one of my comfort foods since forever.
                          Years ago my board was next to a guy who ate his sardines right out of the can. That's where I draw the line; it was rather stinky.

                        2. I literally grew up loving them along with my mom in her favorite preparation - in a sandwich with lettuce, thin slices of sweet red onion, & a few dabs of mayonnaise. Any type of bread would do. Still enjoy them that way best.

                          With the ones in specialty sauces - mustard, hot sauce, etc. - I just eat them out of the can on crackers.

                          1. Seeing that you are a sardine addict I have some inside info for you and the others on this thread. Go into Whole Foods and look in the frozen fish section. They have one lb frozen anchovy says the box label. For $2.99. These are actually sardines and are sardine size. Caught in Europe. Not a Chinese product.

                            Look carefully in that frozen fish section and ask if you don't see them. I have not bought them in a while but saw them as recently as a few weeks ago. I am 70% sure they were labeled as anchovy. It might have been something else. But deff --- A flat white cardboard box and $2.99 for 16 ounces

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: zzDan

                              The can of sardines is empty this morning. But I haven't seen the cat. LOL

                            2. Here's my sardine favorite invention:
                              * Take some sliced sourdough or other interesting bread
                              * Spread with mayo
                              * Lay on some sardines - the smaller the better
                              * Add sliced avocado, salt & pepper
                              * lettuce is optional

                              A very good combo!

                              1. Straight out of the can with saltines.

                                1 Reply
                                1. have u read all the other great threads on sardines/