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The fish that gets no respect


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I was noshing on sardines at my desk yesterday (yes, my co-workers just LOVE me for that) when my black co-worker Freddie peeked at me and exclaimed, "Man, we used to eat those my neighborhood when I was growing up! Sardines & rice!" Other black co-workers chimed in that they loved snarfing sardines and crackers, so we yukked it up about how a nice member-of-the-tribe grew up eating the same food as two dudes from different neighborhoods.

Not all the receptions have been as kind, however. One time I unwrapped a sardine sandwich on the job and my very kind Italian boss wrinkled his nose and smirked, "I use those for bait!" Everyone at lunch howled at that one. And one time at college, a roommate threatened to defenestrate me for cooking kippers and eggs in the dorm room.

I'm not sure if those who disdain sardines do so because of an aversion to fish, or just because the sardine itself gets no respect. I have a Mediterranean cookbook that lists a tasty recipe for Sicilian Spaghetti with Sardines--maybe this fish is more popular among Eastern and Southern Europeans.

Anyway, as someone who has never wielded a fishing pole in his life, I ask: let's hear your (canned) fish stories.

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

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i love tinned sardines with baguette, with lots of fresh chilis. go to Portugal in june and you'll know how much the Portuguese love their sardines. the smell of bbq sardines in the air is absolutely mouthwatering! smoke arises from outdoor barbies and everyone gorges on fat sardines....delicious!

i think people don't like sardines, aside from the smell, because it has too many bones. the bones are fine but they edible once cooked/baked so no problem there.

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I love 'em but confess to having never put one of the tinned varieties in my mouth. Grilled or marinated fresh, though, they're great.

Here's a thread for anyone who can find the fresh guys at their local fishmonger.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I always have several tins of sardines at the ready. King Oscar is just about the best I have ever tried. I do prefer the lightly smoked in olive oil. Any other recommendations? On occasion, a sandwich on seeded rye bread with a little mayo and some onion juice produced by scraping a butter knife across the face of a halved onion will just hit the spot. Usually, though, a tin of sardines, a handful of saltines and a little chopped raw onion is just about heaven. I too, was chastised by my nonbeliever coworkers for having them at my desk and now only indulge at home.

Cheers,

HC

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Love the fresh ones, you can have my share of the tinned.

If you're ever in the neighborhood, stop by 40 Sardines, where they are always on the menu in some form and always delicious.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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I absolutely love sardines and it is my dream to try them fresh!! ..I have yet to find them anywhere!!! But will never stop looking ...

I take this snack for lunch quite often and no one is aware I am eating sardines!

this is a Cambodian snack served on those egg sized mottled green and white eggplants I just slice them up and they are eaten raw ..like a cracker for the dip... very tasty combo!

here is the method

one can of drained bristling sardines in olive oil

one fine minced jalepeno pepper

juice of one lime

mash it all up well and spread on the eggplant slices ...

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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OK OK my absolute favorite sardine included lunch

to die for!!!

two nice thick crusty slices of sourdough bread

lots of home made mayo on each side of the bread

a big red ripe beefsteak tomato sliced

and a thick slice of walla walla onion

then a can of drained sardines

and lots of fresh cracked pepper

and many napkins!

my dad and I used to eat this sandwich together when I was little (less the Walla Walla I grew up in Providence RI we did not have them there! we used red onion instead)

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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I always have several tins of sardines at the ready. King Oscar is just about the best I have ever tried. I do prefer the lightly smoked in olive oil. Any other recommendations? On occasion, a sandwich on seeded rye bread with a little mayo and some onion juice produced by scraping a butter knife across the face of a halved onion will just hit the spot.

...

Cheers,

HC

Slices of hard-boiled egg are a great addition to that sandwich on rye!

I love grilled fresh sardines. They may be "another kettle of fish" from canned sardines but I like both.

The dish that I really want to try is one championed by Keven72 in the regional Italian cooking threads: Pasta con la Sarda from Sicily

Recipe from Batalli: click

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Season brand, packed in olive oil, for me! My mother used to get some really great sardines from Italy when I was a child. They were bigger than the sardines I find in tins these days. You got to use a key to open the lid. I adored them.

What is it about a tinned sardine that begs to be wedded to a slice of onion? My daughter prefers canned tuna. Feh. More for me! :laugh:

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They may be "another kettle of fish"

Where is that "groan" emoticon when you need it? :hmmm: (Actually I'm just jealous that you got to it first.:wink:)

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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I love sardines - fresh or canned. My father is from Spain and on my two visits there we would always have them grilled. With canned sardines packed in olive oil, add some sliced onions and dress with some red wine vinegar and some crusty french bread and I am in heaven :smile: This is what I grew up on!

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I prefer lightly smoked, small ("The fish she is very small!) canned sardines from the North Sea or the Baltic. The smokier Sprats (in the round can) from Estonia or Riga are a special treat, and worth getting before the old hand-packing method becomes extinct.

Haven't had good luck with fresh sardines in Ontario, but the fresh smelt season from Lake Erie will soon be on, and they are delicious!

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I eat canned sardines as comfort food - favourite brand is Phoenicia (Portuguese brand), packed in oil and chilis, with the innards still in the fish. Served with finely minced white or red onion, dash of soy sauce (or Maggi Sauce!), and freshly cracked pepper. Next to a big bowl of Chinese rice porridge. Heaven!

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Thanks all, for the recommendations and preferences for different brands.

I just remembered a great dish with canned sardines, Vietnamse Bahn Mi. Oh, this is wonderful with the crusty French roll, pickled vegetables, fresh chilis, cilantro, cucumbers, soy/fish sauce and mayo.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Hadn't eaten sardines in years, but recently I've been eating them quite a bit because I'm training for a long bike ride, and this is fast no-fuss protein when I need it. They're much better than what I remember. In fact, sometimes they're darn good, like with onions, tomatoes and some balsamic vinegar. And I don't know if I'm allowed to say this but, um, I was looking through Chowhound a couple of days ago and someone had done a rather vast survey of many different brands of canned sardines (40, IIRC) and he gave a pretty detailed report of his results. Worth looking at, I think. Portuguese sardines won hands-down.

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fresh grilled sardines are one of Gods home runs!!

ill have the tinned variety and i like them fine, but they are to stiff-fresh mediterranean sardines, brushed with olive oil and quick grilled on red hot coals what canned tuna is to Toro Sashimi

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I think Minerva sardines from Portugal far outclass King Oscar, especially the oil packed ones with chile. When I was a child, I thought it was very spicy, but now that I'm old(er), it barely packs a punch!

In elementary school I once brought sardines and crackers as my recess snack. Elementary school kids just don't know what they're missing! (I also brought roasted peanuts, unshelled once.)

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Has anyone tried "Nice" brand canned sardines? They come from Morocco and are skinless and boneless, plump and tasty. Dominick's carries them here in Chicago. I eat them on Triscuits when there is nobody else at home. More for me!

Edited by chile_peppa (log)
"It is a fact that he once made a tray of spanakopita using Pam rather than melted butter. Still, though, at least he tries." -- David Sedaris
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There is a Spanish brand called Matiz that is great - the fish are pretty big, but so good! (They also sell pulpo, pieces of grilled and marinated octopus, that are to die for.)

When I was a poor student, I loved on canned sardines and kippers - they were cheap and yummy...and now we know good for you too!

Fresh grilled sardines are one of the most delicious things ever - a squeeze of lemon, cracked pepper and sea salt - heaven!

HA HA - I meant to say that I LIVED on canned fish when I was a student, but maybe they were to blame for my active love life back then!

Edited by gariotin (log)
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Some of these posts raise a question - I eat sardines because I grew up eating sardines with my Ukrainian/Russian/German grandparents.

Are canned sardines a taste that you have to grow up with, or can you aquire the taste as an adult?

Come to think of it, I suspect my willingness to try anything remotely edible comes from the "weird" stuff I loved eating with my grandparents! :smile:

Edited by crinoidgirl (log)

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As a kid I used to love it when my mom made sardine sandwiches for my school lunch. By the time I got to eat them, the juices would have soaked a bit into the bread, which was particularly yummy. It still surprises me that I never got any grief about them from my fellow students.

I have a special fondness for the huge fat Mexican sardines in tomato sauce in oval cans. But any canned sardines are fine with me.

I have yet to try fresh sardines ... I keep meaning to correct that.

I'm a big fan of stinky fish in general, and I can totally "blame" my parents for initiation into the delights of these funky foods at a young age. It was definitely an ethnic cultural thing with us--we ate mostly classic Eastern European Jewish preparations like smoked whitefish, sable, and of course lox. I was indoctrinated about the joys of canned fish about the same time. We treated the canned stuff as a more convenient, storeable, and economical alternative to the fancy stuff, suitable for everyday use--the fancy (and pricey) deli smoked fish were for occasional weekend brunches and special treats.

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