Posts Tagged sardine recipes

May 9 2015

Embracing Squid in Its Many Forms

13KITCHEN1-master675Evan Sung for The New York Times

It’s funny that people who are normally squeamish about eating oddball food have no problem with squid.

Maybe it’s because most people encounter squid as fried calamari, which are often deep-fried rings with no discernible ocean flavor. This generic crisp and salty bar snack served with marinara sauce has mass appeal for young and old, even small children. But if they were told that calamari are actually bizarre-looking cephalopods with tentacles, and not somehow related to chicken nuggets, most kids wouldn’t touch them.

A platter of fried calamari does make a good introduction to squid, though, and can be quite wonderful when it’s well prepared. A good Italian restaurant is the best place to have them, maybe as part of a fritto misto. Many Thai restaurants offer excellent renditions sparked with hot pepper, mint and basil. In Spain, at streetside stands, you can buy a paper cone filled with freshly fried tiny squid called chipirones. They’ll make you swoon.

There are countless other ways to enjoy squid. Try them whole, seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil. Roast them uncovered in a hot oven for 10 minutes or so, or throw them on the grill. With a dab of aioli or salsa verde — divine.

13KITCHEN3-articleLargeEvan Sung for The New York Times

Braised long-cooked squid is also delectable. Simmering in tomato sauce until tender, or in a hearty red wine sauce, a common method used in many parts of Europe, is a way of treating squid a bit more like meat than fish. And squid stewed “in its own ink” shows up in arroz negro, a kind of black paella, or in pasta nero, garlicky spaghetti in a rich black sauce.

Sicilian cooks often make calamari ripieni, filling the whole squid’s cavity with a savory bread-crumb stuffing. For this recipe, I add typical Sicilian ingredients like chard, fennel, anchovy, pecorino and pine nuts for an especially herby effect. The wild fennel fronds that grow prolifically on Sicilian soil are not available where I live, so I use a combination of fronds from cultivated fennel and crushed fennel seeds. Cooks in Northern California can forage for it, though.

13KITCHEN2-articleLargeEvan Sung for The New York Times

Some use toothpicks to keep the stuffing in, but I don’t mind if some falls out while the calamari are roasting.

Be sure to purchase the tentacles as well as the tubes (some fishmongers sell them separately). They are delicious when roasted alongside the stuffed calamari and great fun to eat.

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Mar 24 2015

Roasted Sardines With Seaweed Salsa Verde Recipe


Photo: Armando Rafael for The Wall Street Journal, Food Styling by Heather Meldrom, Prop Styling by Nidia Cueva

Total Time: 1½ hours Serves: 6, as an appetizer

2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced white onions
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and garnish
6 (approx. 6-by-8-inch) sheets Japanese nori (seaweed), torn into small pieces
12 fresh sardines, cleaned, scaled and butterflied
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ tablespoon salt-packed capers, rinsed, soaked for 2 hours, drained and minced
1½ tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon dark Japanese soy sauce
3 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
¼ cup puffed rice (optional)

1. Make salsa verde: In a lidded small saucepan over low heat, sweat shallots, garlic and onions in ½ cup olive oil until beginning to steam. Cover, and cook until soft, 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in nori, and let marinate 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, prepare sardines: Lightly rinse in cold water, then pat dry. Season both sides of fish with salt, then brush with oil. Place fish, skin-side up, on a baking sheet. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

3. Strain marinated nori mixture, reserving oil. Finely mince solids, then combine with capers in a mixing bowl. Stir in lime juice, soy sauce, reserved oil and salt to taste. Sauce should be thin enough to spread easily. Thin with up to ¼ cup additional oil, as needed. Gently fold in mint and puffed rice, if using, until incorporated.

4. Place fish in oven and roast until skin lightly crackles and sizzles, about 4 minutes. Divide fish among serving plates. Dollop salsa verde on and around fish, then finish with a drizzle of oil.

—Adapted from Theo Adley of the Squeaky Bean, Denver

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Feb 5 2015

Mike Hale, The Grub Hunter: Don’t slam the sardine

EP-150209946Smaller fish such as sardines and herring are less vulnerable to pollutants. (Bob Fila — Chicago Tribune file)

By Mike Hale, Monterey Herald

I live for Sardine Tuesdays, those rare occasions when Local Catch Monterey Bay offends some of its members by highlighting those small, oily “trash” fish that belong on the end of a hook — not in a fry pan fouling the air within two square blocks.

The sign-out sheet at my pickup location always includes more than a few persuasive scribbles from disappointed members urging someone — anyone — to take their share.

I always oblige. Then I tote home my double dose of sardines — meeting the cold glare of my fish-phobe wife and the delirious purr of our rotund Sopa, who creates a happy tangle of orange fur around my ankles.

Sardines and other small fish at the bottom of the food chain (herring, mackerel, smelt, anchovies) often end up in pet food, but in the right hands they are a tasty, healthful addition to the human diet (a fact ridiculously obvious anywhere outside our Fast Food Nation).

When Local Catch offers the smaller-sized sardines as it did last week, I prepare my home for a massive fish fry by opening my kitchen windows. It’s a simple process: I liberally season the cleaned, headless sardines before dredging them in flour and frying them in vegetable oil. After a spritzing of lemon juice, I hold these crispy beauties by the tail and eat them whole (the tiny bones practically dissolve upon cooking).

If that seems like a lot of trouble, order them out. Oddly enough, the former Sardine Capital of the World has traditionally boasted very few restaurants that serve these undervalued and underutilized fish (and believe it or not, the Sardine Factory has never served sardines).

But the tide is turning. Heading to Fisherman’s Wharf provides options: Domenico’s offers a fried anchovy appetizer and olive-oil marinated, grilled local sardines served with a Sicilian salsa; Abalonetti Bar & Grill grills its local sardines, topped with a spicy marinara. Off the pier: Crystal Fish in Monterey serves a fine sardine sushi; Lokal in Carmel Valley often adds to its menu tasty sardine sandwiches called bocadillos, slathering the bread with a pungent mojito aioli; jeninni kitchen + wine bar in Pacific Grove rolls out bruschetta with anchovies; and Mundaka in Carmel right now offers Spanish mackerel escabeche, a method where the fish is cooked before pickled.

Boats are pulling Spanish mackerel out of the bay now, and Mundaka chef Brandon Miller seasons them with fennel, black pepper and cumin before roasting. He then sautés vegetables, adding water and vinegar to create a pickling liquid he pours over the fish.

When smelt are running in San Francisco Bay, Miller will source them from his hometown and serve what he calls “fries with eyes.” He dredges the whole smelt in flour and deep-fries until crispy, serving them with a side of squid ink aioli.

“You can’t just eat all the big fish, because there is only so many of them in the ocean,” he said. “I like to target these little fish. They are delicious and really good for you.”

Cardiologists light up at the subject. Sardines and their brethren are full of heart-healthy omega-3s, and not full of toxins (such as mercury) that can build up in large fish such as tuna. They are also chock-full of fat-fighting compounds that help stabilize blood sugar, and rich in coenzyme Q10, vitamin B12, selenium, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D.

Without a doubt, sardines are stinky, slimy, slippery and seemingly indigestible. But look closer, climb down the food chain and give them a try anyway. Open the windows, put on a pot of boiling vinegar and cause a stink.

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May 13 2014

How to fillet fresh sardines, no knife required

By Michael Cimarusti
May 10 –


Filleting fresh sardines is worth the effort. (David Silverman / Getty Images)

Fresh sardines are a bit of work to prepare. Small fish usually are, but don’t let that deter you. They’re worth the effort. And once you get it down, the process goes quickly. You don’t even need a knife to fillet a sardine. Their flesh is so soft they can be filleted with your thumbnail. In fact, doing this will help you preserve the texture. By filleting sardines this way, you force the bones out of the flesh. When you cut sardines with a knife, you cut through the bones, leaving them behind in the fillets.

Start by gutting the fish. Place the fish on a clean napkin with the belly facing you. Use your thumbnail to separate flesh from bone where the anal fin meets the belly.

Work your thumb under the flesh while sliding your thumb toward the tail of the fish. At this point the flesh of the sardine should be separated from the bone on the first side.

Slide your finger on top of the backbone toward the head of the fish to separate the ribs from the fillet. At this point you will be able to see where the backbone terminates at the tail. Pinch the backbone of the sardine between your thumb and pointer finger and break it.

Gently lift up on the severed backbone, and it will pull free from the flesh, bringing many of the smaller bones with it. When you get to the head of the sardine, you can pinch the backbone again to sever it from the head and lift it free. Whether you leave the head on the fish is up to you.

View the original article here.

May 13 2014

Sardines and mackerel: inexpensive, sustainable and dynamite

By Michael Cimarusti — May 10 —


Lightly salted and pickled sardines on toasted baguette with artichoke puree, tomato and black olive. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

Good things come in small packages. Sardines and mackerel are proof of this adage. These are fish for the converted, fish for people who truly enjoy the flavor of fish.

My first experience with fish of this sort came on a fishing trip in Maine when I was about 12. We were fishing freshwater, but we had brought along canned mackerel for quick lunches. I decided I’d try one. I turned the key on that little can and it opened up a whole world of briny, fatty deliciousness. I still love canned mackerel and canned sardines. Don’t get me started: Ever try a sardine bánh mi? No? Well, trust me, you’ve been missing out.

Sardines and mackerel are plentiful fish, whether you’re buying them canned or fresh. They are easy to come by and inexpensive. In a world where buying wild fish can be a minefield from a sustainability standpoint, these fish offer a haven, and a delicious haven it is.

When buying sardines, look for shiny, firm fish. They should still be flexed in rigor when you buy them, and make sure their bellies are intact.

Once you’ve found the sardines, you’ll need to decide what to do with them.

One of my very favorite dishes — one I could eat every day — is the pasta con le sarde we’ve served for years at Providence. It’s a play on a traditional Sicilian recipe. The pasta includes fresh sardines, olive oil, fennel, pine nuts, raisins and bread crumbs. It’s crave-worthy. Grilled sardines are also delicious with nothing more than sea salt and lemon.

Fish this flavorful does the heavy lifting; you really don’t need to do much in order to make them memorable.

If you want something that’s a little more involved and definitely dinner party material, try quickly pickling the sardines. Serve these on grilled slices of baguette you’ve smeared with artichoke purée and then top them with roasted tomatoes. It’s a terrific appetizer, or you could serve it with a big salad of arugula dressed with simple vinaigrette for more of a main course salad.

Really, any preparation that includes salt and a touch of acid will do: The salt to bring out the flavor in the fish and the acid to tame the fat. It’s hard to go wrong with sardines.

Mackerel is just as flavorful and easier to prepare, since it usually comes already scaled and filleted. I particularly like Spanish, or sierra, mackerel, which has a shiny spotted skin that does beautiful things when crisped in a pan or on a grill. This fish is also particularly abundant and inexpensive, and is recommended as a best choice based on sustainability by the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

One way I love to serve it during the summer is alongside a piperade, a slightly spicy mix of peppers, tomatoes and chorizo. This mixture works with all sorts of fish: mackerel, sardines, swordfish or bluefish.

Sardines and mackerel, like black licorice, aren’t for everybody. I get that, but you really need to give them a try. My son, one of the pickiest eaters on the planet, hounds me, nearly every Sunday, to take him to Park’s Barbeque for their broiled mackerel. Go figure. If he can relish them, so can you.

View the original article here.

Oct 9 2013

Food Blog: Lemon Grilled Sardines

Total preparation time: 20 minutes. Total cooking time: 7/8 minutes. Total approximate cost: £1.02.

Autumn is definitely upon us now, but for a flavour of summer that is really cheap and not to mention great for you, give these sardines a go!


  • 1/2 Lemon
  • 3 Sardines
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Clean and gut your sardines. You may be able to find them already prepared, or you can ask a fishmonger to do it for you. However if braving it yourself rub the fish all over to remove any scales, and then just cut the belly from the gills to about 2 cm away from the beginning of the tail and remove the innards. Rinse out and it’s done. See it wasn’t so bad!
  2. Slice the lemon into thin wedges and scatter about half onto a baking tray. With the other half place in the carcass of the fish to allow the citrus flavour to permeate through.
  3. Similarly slice the garlic and do the same.
  4. Place the sardines on top of the lemon wedges, before seasoning and drizzling with olive oil.
  5. Now grill in a preheated oven at about 250C for about 3-4 minutes each side and serve.
  6. Enjoy! Best served with a green salad and some fresh crusty bread.

Read the original recipe and see a photo here.

May 8 2012

How to Eat Sardines Sustainably

Please note that the quote below by Geoff Shester incorrectly states that most of California Pacific Sardines go to tuna farms. In actuality, most CA sardines are exported for canning for human consumption. It should also be noted that the Lenfest Report identified CA’s forage fisheries to be one of the most precautionary, sustainable forage fisheries in the world. California limits harvesting to only allow 2% of the total forage pool, leaving 98% in the ocean for other marine life

Written by Miriam Goldstein

Sardines school off Baja California. Photo by Jon Bertsch.

I only eat anchovies with Caesar salad, and am rather fond of the tiny fish that add a bit of strong flavor to the romaine lettuce. I’m unusual for wanting to get even that close to the tiny, oily fish – sardines, anchovy, menhaden –  that used to be a staple of regular American food. That’s why Julia Whitty’s recent article in Mother Jones in which she encourages consumers to pause before they “ take a bite of that sardine sandwich” was so surprising. You won’t find sardines anywhere on the list of the top 10 consumed seafoods – or do you? Here’s why eating more sardines directly would actually be good for the ocean:

1) The United States Pacific sardine fishery is not overfished. This may be surprising to people who are familiar with the famous collapse of the Monterey (central California) sardine fishery, which was described by John Steinbeck in his book Cannery Row. Puzzlement over this collapse launched one of the most important long-term oceanographic investigations of all time, the California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigation, which continues to provide critical scientific information to this day. Over 50 years of investigation has shown that this crash actually WASN’T caused by overfishing – at least not directly.

Sardine and anchovy populations are actually  tied directly to large-scale climatic conditions – if they’re favorable, there’s lots of fish. If they’re unfavorable, the fish crash. Overfishing may have exacerbate the crash and slowed recovery, but it probably didn’t cause it directly. Some researchers are predicting a similar sardine crash this year due to unfavorable climatic conditions similar to those seen before the late 1940s crash, and are encouraging managers to decrease sardine quotes in order to speed post-crash recovery. (Though this is controversial – see this response).

Historically, sardine & anchovy fisheries in other parts of the world, such as the South American anchoveta fishery (the biggest fishery in the world) are less well regulated. Overfishing in these ecosystems leads to no room for error – if there is the slightest change in the climate that causes the  fish to reproduce less fast, the fishery crashes. Buy U.S. Pacific sardines.

2)   Americans should eat more sardines directly, and fewer sardines indirectly. Only about a quarter of the enormous U.S. sardine haul is eaten directly  – the rest are sold as bait or as fishmeal. All of the three most popular U.S. seafoods – shrimp, salmon, and canned tuna – are farmed with fishmeal or caught with bait. This is why Jennifer Jacquet developed her “Eat Like A Pig” campaign. Grist covered this issue in response to Whitty’s article as well:

Geoff Shester, the California program director at Oceana, talked to Grist contributor Clare Leschin-Hoar for the article, “Small fish, big ocean: Saving Pacific forage fish.” We followed up with him to ask his take on sardine-eating. In the case of Pacific sardines, he said that “the lion’s share go to bluefin tuna farms (ranches) in Australia, then to commercial longline bait in international tuna fisheries.” Overall, he says, “consumers are demanding the wrong things. Instead of demanding farmed salmon, which uses at least three pounds of forage fish to get one pound of salmon, people should be demanding the forage fish themselves.”

Also, sardines are healthy! They appear on the New York Times list of the  11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating. Also, food writer Michael Pollan’s Rule 32 (Don’t overlook the oily little fishes”) elaborates further:

Wild fish are among the healthiest things you can eat, yet many wild fish stocks are on the verge of collapse because of overfishing. Avoid big fish at the top of the marine food chain–tuna, swordfish, shark–because they’re endangered, and because they often contain high levels of mercury. Fortunately, a few of the most nutritious wild fish species, including mackerel, sardines, and anchovies, are well managed, and in some cases are even abundant. Those oily little fish are particularly good choices. According to a Dutch proverb: “A land with lots of herring can get along with few doctors.”

3)   Since sardine and other small forage fish like anchovies and menhadan congregate in single-species schools in the water column (see the awesome photo by Jon Bertsch at the top of this post!), there’s relatively little bycatch. Fishers are able to catch these fish, and only these fish, without accidentally killing a lot of other marine life. This is emphatically not the case with the longline tuna fisheries for which forage fish become bait. Fish farming operations have other significant environmental impacts, such as the infection of wild salmon stocks with farmed salmon parasites and damage to the ocean bottom communities. Eating sardines directly is far better for the ocean environment than filtering them through large predators caught accidentally with more large predators.

Read the full article on DeepSeaNews.



Dec 3 2011

Eating fish reduces risk of Alzheimer’s five-fold

'Chef's special Sashimi' photo (c) 2009, Geoff Peters - license:

Kounteya Sinha, TNN

CHICAGO: India’s fish eating population has something to cheer about.

A new research presented at Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) Congress says that consuming baked or broiled fish reduces the risk for five-year decline to mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease by almost five-fold. The results showed that people who consumed baked or broiled fish at least once a week had better preservation of grey matter volume on MRI in brain areas at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

“This is the first major study to link fish consumption with reduction in risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI),” said lead author Cyrus Raji from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

“The findings showed that consumption of baked or broiled fish on a weekly basis was positively associated with grey matter volumes in several areas of the brain. Greater hippocampal, posterior cingulated and orbital frontal cortex volumes in relation to fish consumption were recorded,” he added.

The results also demonstrated increased levels of cognition in people who ate baked or broiled fish.

In MCI, memory loss is present, but to a lesser extent than in Alzheimer’s. People with MCI often go on to develop Alzheimer’s.

Read the rest at the Times of India.


Nov 29 2011

Partnership Preserves Livelihoods and Fish Stocks

Stevie Fitz leases a fishing permit from the Nature Conservancy. He reports his catches as part of the group's effort to manage fish stocks in Half Moon Bay. (Peter DaSilva for The New York Times)


HALF MOON BAY, Calif. — Stevie Fitz, a commercial fisherman, was pulling up his catch in one of his favorite spots off of Point Reyes in June when he saw something terrifying — in his nets were nearly 300 bocaccio, a dwindling species of rockfish protected by the government.

There are such strict limits on catching the overfished bocaccio that netting a large load, even by accident, can sideline and even ruin an independent fisherman.

Still, Mr. Fitz did not try to hide his mistake by slipping it back into the deep. Instead, he reported himself. With a few swipes on his iPad, he posted the exact time and location of the catch to a computerized mapping system shared by a fleet of 13 commercial boats, helping others to avoid his mistake.

“It was a slap in the face,” he said, “but we are trying to build an information base that will help everyone out.” He was later able to sell the bocaccio, although the catch still counted against his quota for the year.

A lifelong fisherman, Mr. Fitz is part of a very unusual business arrangement with the Nature Conservancy, an environmental group that is trying to transform commercial fishing in the region by offering a model of how to keep the industry vital without damaging fish stocks or sensitive areas of the ocean floor.

Five years ago, the conservancy bought out area fishing boats and licenses in a fairly extreme deal — forged with the local fishing industry — to protect millions of acres of fish habitat. The unusual collaboration was enjoined to meet stricter federal regulations and the results of a successful legal challenge. But once the conservancy had access to what was essentially its own private commercial fishing fleet, the group decided to put the boats back to work and set up a collaborative model for sustainable fishing.

Bringing information technology and better data collection to such an old-world industry is part of the plan. So is working with the fishermen it licenses to control overfishing by expanding closed areas and converting trawlers — boats that drag weighted nets across the ocean floor — to engage in more gentle and less ecologically damaging techniques like using traps, hooks and line, and seine netting.

The conservancy’s model is designed to take advantage of radical new changes in government regulation that allow fishermen in the region both more control and more responsibility for their operating choices. The new rules have led to better conservation practices across all fleets, government monitors say.

“It is blowing me away what is happening out there,” said William Stelle, the administrator for Pacific Northwest region of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s marine fisheries service. But, he added, the conservancy “may be the most sophisticated example of the successful marriage of interests between the environmental community and the fishing industry in marine conservation.” Similar programs are beginning to appear in other places.

American fish stocks have been troubled since the early 1990s and remain so because of overfishing, pollution, and warming seas. The government says that today 23 percent of fish stocks are not at self-sustaining levels at current fishing pressure.

Congress passed a law in 1996 demanding that local fishery councils protect “essential fish habitat.” In 2006, it also imposed tight catch limits for overfished species. As a result, if a fishery exceeds its limit on just one of these species, under federal law, the entire area could be closed to commercial boats for a season.

Local councils have struggled to balance the inherent tensions of adhering to these limits without ruining the fishermen’s ability to make a living. To do this, they have imposed regulations like prohibiting fishing in some areas, dictating the catch season and limiting what techniques and gear are used.

But last year, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council replaced some of those restrictions with strict quotas on six imperiled species and parceled them out among all 138 commercial vessels along the coast. Government observers are now put on every boat to make sure there is no cheating.

The downside is that if one boat lands too much of a sensitive species, known as bycatch, it must be docked until it can buy another boat’s unused quota — and there is not always a market to balance the catch. The quota system also provides incentive for each fisherman in the risk pool to help prevent others from using up their quota. And the early results for fish stocks are promising. Bycatch has dropped from 15 percent to 20 percent of the total haul to less than 1 percent.

The Nature Conservancy first got involved in central California in 2004 when it was looking to invest in marine conservation zones. The group realized that it needed better information to preserve the most critical areas.

“What the fishermen had was a deep local knowledge of the habitats of certain species,” said Michael Bell, senior project director with the conservancy. “There wasn’t scientific information at that level that could match the fisherman knowledge.”

Read the rest from The New York Times.

Sep 7 2011

Six great Bay Area sardine dishes


Local marinated sardines with salsa verde and cherry tomato at Coco500 on Brannan Street in San Francisco (Credit: Brant Ward / The Chronicle)

Michael Bauer

A few years ago diners rarely saw sardines on a restaurant menu because of their assertive flavor and downscale reputation. However, with the increasing awareness of seafood seasonality and sustainability, this once-overlooked fish has moved into the spotlight.

It’s also been given a boost by the increasing popularity and diversity of cocktails. Sardines make a great snack with a stiff drink, which is why you’ll often find them on bar menus at upscale restaurants.

Many Bay Area chefs have found clever ways not only to showcase the fish but also to enhance its natural flavor. Here are six of the best.


Long before it was fashionable, Loretta Keller served sardines at her Bizou restaurant, which she subsequently turned into Coco500. Now she offers local marinated sardines accompanied by salsa verde.

500 Brannan St. (at Fourth Street), San Francisco; or Lunch Monday-Friday; dinner Monday-Saturday. Full bar. Reservations and credit cards accepted.


The tapas portion of the menu at this popular Castro Street Spanish restaurant includes wood-oven-roasted sardines on avocado toast with pickled onions and smoked salt. A perfect bite for a glass of wine, sherry or beer.

1320 Castro St. (at 24th Street), San Francisco; (415) 285-0250 or Dinner Tuesday-Sunday. Beer and wine. Reservations and credit cards accepted.

Read the rest of the story on the San Francisco Chronicle’s site.