Sardines, extremely popular during and after the depression, were a cheap source of scarce protein. At the time, they were mostly canned and not very delicious, and almost no tempting recipes were available.
However, sardines are making a comeback in popularity due to the discovery of how rich they are in omega-3 fat and vitamin D. And, because they are bottom feeder fish, they contain less contaminants. The good news is efforts are under way to come up with more palatable ways to process and prepare them.
Sardines, for eating, originated off the island of Sardinea back before the days of Napoleon Bonaparte. Early on, they were canned and no doubt valuable rations for traveling armies and at-sea explorers.
Sardines flourish in the Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean. Southeastern Europe and Norway are leading exporters of canned sardines. They tend to travel in large schools and larger forms of fish depend upon them, in part, for food. Sometimes called pilchards, they belong to the Cluipeidea family, all small, oily fish, members of the herring family. Like most bottom fish, they are caught with nets and seines.
Sardines are rich in tryptophan. Selenium, Omega3 fat, protein, phosphorus, vitamins D, B, choline, calcium and are reported to reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s.
Fresh sardines, when purchased, should be free of odor and have bright eyes and scales. Keep iced and use immediately after purchase. Gut and rinse under cool water. They may be smoked, grilled or pickled.
Canned sardines have a long shelf life in cool, dry locations. They are sold packed in olive oil, soybean oil or water. Use before expiration dates on cans. Refrigerate any unused sardine portions.
Quickly rinse oil-packed sardines before eating.
Serve with lemon juice and olive oil.
Mix sardines with favorite herbs and chopped tomatoes.
Combine sardines with chopped onion, olives, or fennel.
Steep them in balsamic vinegar.
Serve dressed with a mustard vinaigrette.
Below are foodsites featuring sardine serving suggestions: