I usually eat my sardines out of the can but I decided to fry some up to get the skins nice and crispy and mix with some other food. I used the sardines in olive oil. However, once they hit the hot pan I was dealing with the most violent oil explosions I've ever dealt with even with the heat way down. My whole stove was covered in oil by the time I could dig out my splatter screen. I love sardines and they came out delicious (if a bit shredded up from the explosions) but have been afraid to try again since. Why did these explode so violently? Is it because they are soaked in olive oil so their innards are a volatile mix of oil and water? Is there any way to fry these and get them crispy without oil flying everywhere or should I only cook with sardines packed in water?
Canned foods, even Sardines, contain a lot of water. When the water laden sardine hits the hot oil the water turns almost immediately to steam; boom. To get them crisp without the explosions you'll need to find some way to confine the spatter until things settle down in the pan. A deep fryer with lid works better than anything else I've tried.