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Feb 15, 2014 01:15 AM

Canned sardines for tapas?

We went out to a tapas restaurant tonight, and I ordered what the menu said were "grilled sardines". When they came they were obviously (good) canned ones, not grilled from fresh fish. They weren't horrible, just not what I expected, though I never ordered sardines at a tapas restaurant so I wasn't it normal for a tapas restaurant to serve canned rather than grilled from fresh or frozen?

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  1. It's time to find out the name of the owner and send him/her a polite letter pointing out the false menu ad and your disappointment. Canned sardines are steamed. I would have expected much different as well - like I had in Portugal, fresh and hot off the grill with fried potatoes and a bottle of vinho verde. Heavenly.

    If owner wants to maintain a reputation, you might be invited back for a round of tapas on the house.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chefpaulo

      Thanks for your reply. I'm not sure I was disappointed, just surprised. Since I've never had sardines at a tapas restaurant or in a tapas style and didn't know what to expect, I was thinking something along the lines of a salt grilled mackerel or something. It's not worth complaining, the rest of the food was great. I should add this was in a US tapas restaurant, not one in Spain or Portugal.Thank you very much for the additional info, I hadn't thought about the steamed part.

    2. Could the menu have said "grilled sardines en escabeche" - because of the marinating in vinegar and oil the texture fresh sardines "en escabeche" can resemble that of canned.

      It is very common for tapas places in Spain to serve canned seafood. There are bars that serve only preserved foods. I have cans of sardines that cost double the price of fresh.

      Could it be that the menu offered both and you just got the wrong dish?

      2 Replies
      1. re: caganer

        All the menu said was "grilled sardines" though they had an herb sauce with them. They were good sardines, and like I said I didn't know what to expect, but I was surprised. I learned something new though so that's always good.

        1. re: Valur

          Caganer's "en escabeche" is new to me and worth exploring. Grilled means hot off a charcoal fire.

          But let's take a moment to revel in this internet moment to present, discuss and refute all opinions of whatever. Who, in 1990, saw this coming? I have expanded my information horizons and social connections to unimagined proportions.

          OK. Back to the sardines.

      2. Don't let the can fool you, many excellent quality tapas are canned. Quite popular in Spain.

        1. Either they ran out of fresh and used canned or the wording on the menu is not accurate. Canned seafood is very very popular in spain (as are olives stuffed with tuna or anchovy). Tinned sardines like these are often used for pintxos and tapas:

          1. I think the main issue is taste. Although, as a matter of semantics, I don't see why canned sardines couldn't then also be briefly grilled after opening and called grilled. That said, I would share your expectation that something "grilled" is cooked that way from a raw state. That may be a USA presumption (I'm American).