Sardines? Egads no! They look like fish, they smell like fish and they taste like fish. That’s enough information to get many of us to swim for the hills. If there was ever a little fishy in need of a makeover it’s the sardine. Un-loved and under-appreciated do not begin to describe the loathing attached to this surprisingly healthy and completely delicious tasting fish. I’ll start the makeover with a sandwich that I know you’ll love, if you just let yourself get past all those fishy miscoceptions. Sardine Sandwich with Horseradish Cream & Pickled Red Onion
Sardines are super tasty. Really they are. Oh, believe me, I know what you’re thinking. Even the very word seems a little unappetizing. Sar-deeeens. Just the phrase sardine sandwich can clear a room to the point of echos. Say it out loud and see for yourself. “Sardine Sandwich… anyone? anyone?”
But now I’m going to ask you to do something. I’m going to ask you to listen to my case for sardines. Especially canned sardines. First off, they’re terrific from an environmental perspective. Seafood Watch rates sardines as a “Best Choice”, because they’re an abundant, fast growing fish that’s low on the food chain and able to sustain its population. Sardines feed solely on plankton. Which may sound gross but what that means is they don’t eat other fish which may contain mercury or PCB’s. Unlike that canned tuna we’re so fond of, sardines aren’t bio-accumulating these toxins.
When it comes to nutrition, sardines deliver. Ounce for ounce, sardines contain more protein than steak, more potassium than bananas and more iron than spinach. They’re high in vitamins B and D, selenium, phosphorus, and calcium. But most importantly, sardines are a fatty fish whose oil packs about as much omega 3‑fat per ounce as salmon.
But I want you to love sardines because they taste like what they are. In today’s world that’s more rare than you’d think. When it comes to seafood many of us prefer artificially-dyed salmon fillets, pale tuna steaks, frozen fish sticks, or artificial crab meat. My theory is that the more fish looks like chicken breast the more likely we are to eat it. Because in the last few generations we modern folk have gotten too far away from understanding what our food is and where it comes from. Sure we get it on an intellectual level. A fish is a creature that comes from the sea. But even those of us who love fish often won’t touch a fish that actually looks like a fish. No bones, no skin, no scales, no heads, no eyes. Certainly no eyes! So the idea of popping a whole or nearly whole fish in our mouths sends a little modern day shiver down our spines. I love sardines because you simply can’t ignore the fact that they are– fish. They look like fish. They smell like fish. They have heads and tails, scales, bones. And they taste like fish. Super delicious fish.
- 0.25 c rice-wine vinegar
- 1 t sugar
- 1 t black peppercorns
- 0.5 small onion, thinly sliced
- 2 T mayonnaise
- 1 T prepared horseradish
- 0.5 t fresh lemon juice
- 2 sli pumpernickle bread, toasted
- 2 leaves red lettuce
- 4 oz canned sardines packed in oil, drained plus 2 tsp reserved oil
- 1 roasted red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
- 1 pn each kosher salt and black pepper
Bring vinegar, sugar, and peppercorns to a boil in a small saucepan. Add onions and remove from heat; let sit for 30 minutes, then chill. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, horseradish, and lemon juice; spread mixture over each slice of bread, and top each with 1 lettuce leaf. Divide sardines evenly between sandwiches, and top with pepper and pickled onions. Drizzle with reserved oil, and season with salt and pepper.
From Saveur Magazine
Greg Henry writes the food blog Sippity Sup- Serious Fun Food, and contributes the Friday column on entertaining for The Back Burner at Key Ingredient. He’s active in the food blogging community, and a popular speaker at IFBC, Food Buzz Festival and Camp Blogaway. He’s led cooking demonstrations in Panama & Costa Rica, and has traveled as far and wide as Norway to promote culinary travel. He’s been featured in Food & Wine Magazine, Los Angeles Times, More Magazine, The Today Show Online and Saveur’s Best of the Web. Greg also co-hosts The Table Set podcast which can be downloaded on iTunes or at Homefries Podcast Network.