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What to do with tinned sardines?

I'll confess - I am not a fish lover. But I try to eat fish when I can stand to, though it's mostly mild whitefish or canned tuna (sorry!), just for the health benefits, especially now that my cholesterol is creeping up year on year. Someone suggested I buy tinned sardines, that they are versatile and the flavor enhances rather than dominates a lot of dishes. But I don't know what to do with them!

Firstly, what, literally, to do with the tiny fish. Do you eat every bit of it or are there parts you're supposed to chop off or cut out (guts, etc.)?

Second, what to do with it in terms of recipes/meals - recipes where the flavor would compliment whatever else I'm eating with it. I'm open to just about anything but generally keep a Mediterrean-stocked kitchen as opposed to, say, Asian or Southwestern or whatever, so any Med-region recipes or uses are apprecited.

How can I learn to love and eat these easily and regularly?

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  1. I would throw them out but my husband would kill me, he loves them. He eats them happily right out of the tins as a snack, sometimes on a cracker, sometimes not.

    He uses them like anchovies in a salad and then uses the oil as dressing. He adds a layer to sandwiches.

    Since I am the predominant cook in the family I don't know any recipes other than I occasionally add them to his side of pizza, or include them on an antipasto platter. I have made a sardine dip before sour cream, cream cheese, scallions, dill and a dash of not sauce. Nasty stuff but he loved it

    1. I like them on a slice of crusty bread or toasted black bread, with spicy mustard and a small squeeze of fresh lemon.

      Here are more ways to use them...
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/458828

      1. I just make a sandwich on good bread with homemade mustard sauce, accompanied by a beer. The fish should already be cleaned — no head or guts. If they come with tails (mine do) you can eat them or cut them off, as you prefer.

        1 Reply
        1. re: GH1618

          I just checked my Riga sprats, since I'm making my traditional Friday night sardine sandwich. These are definitely cleaned of entrails.

        2. I drizzle with lemon juice and eat them on toast. They're already gutted. Whether you eat the skin and tiny bones, or not, is up to you. When I had a cat, I would give the skin and bones to her.

          When I visited Barbados, my friend's relatives made sardine 'pizzas', with English muffins, sardines and old Cheddar, iirc.

          How do you eat tinned sardines thread:
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/458828

          Need recipes for canned sardines thread:
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/774768

          some other ideas: http://www.thekitchn.com/what-are-som...

          4 Replies
          1. re: prima

            Not all are gutted.
            The guts, like the skin and bones, are optional to eat. I eat 'em.
            I think some people are encouraged to eat the bones for their calcium content.

            1. re: porker

              Really? Ok. I learn something new every day. ;-) I've only seen/eaten canned sardines that have been gutted.

              I've accidentally eaten fresh sardine guts in Greece, when I haven't cleaned my sardines well enough (for my taste), and sardine guts have a distinctively bitter taste (an unpleasant taste for me).

              1. re: prima

                Fresh sardine guts are indeed bitter (don't like either). Canned guts taste pretty much like the rest of the fish (don't mind eating).

                I like opening the body cavity of grilled sardines, sometimes you get the prize of roe sacks. Once, in a Greek joint, the grilled sardine belly was chock full of tiny shrimp. I ate them up with gusto. Mrs. Porker was repulsed....

                1. re: porker

                  Sort of like a sardine pinata or a Kinder Sardine! Glad you enjoyed. I'm not sure I'd be repulsed, but I don't think I'd partake.

          2. thanks all, you guys are the best.