Okay, to be honest, I had always thought that canned sardines would smell extremely fishy and most likely taste ten times more fishy. But boy was I wrong! The canned sardines smelled fine (by that, I mean they did have a slightly fishy smell, but it was a lot less than I had expected, and certainly not as fishy as some not-so-fresh fishes can get). And, they tasted fine too! The flavour was clean and slightly fishy (in a good way), and the flesh’s texture reminded me of fatty fish, meaty and rich.
I tried sardines two ways: served cold as a cracker spread and served hot stirred into pasta.
Cracker Spread using Sardines in salt spring water
Following the suggestions I found on the Chowhound discussion board, I created a simple cracker spread by mashing up the fatty sardines with scallions, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Visually, the spread didn’t look too appetizing but the flavour was tasty. The lemon juice nicely toned down the fishiness and with a little salt and pepper, the sweet, clean flavour of the fish really shone through. I can imagine this spread would also be very delicious as a sandwich or tortilla wrap filling, perhaps be an even more tastier alternative to the traditional tuna salad sandwich.
This was a surprisingly easy and quick dish to put together. I followed the recipe on Allrecipes and it took no more than 20 minutes from start to finish. And, the end result was DELICIOUS! The sardines infused a taste of the ocean which added depth to the pasta sauce and so I did not need to add any cheese to boost the sauce’s taste. Overall, this pasta dish was very light and refreshing and I enjoyed it quite a lot. I will definitely consider making this dish again (especially on those hectic weekdays when I need a tasty and comforting hot meal that takes minimal time and effort).
Originally I thought canned sardines would be one of the hardest food challenge yet, but making them taste good was much easier than I thought. In fact, I enjoyed them a lot, and already I’m thinking about more ways to try canned sardines. So far, I’ve listed two recipes on my to-make-soon list: Alton Brown’s Sherried Sardine Toast and Sardines and Bean Salad.
I am really glad that this challenge has helped me to develop a taste for these tiny fishes, especially since canned sardines can be such a cheap, handy and healthy pantry staple item to have. Let me count the many great reasons why canned sardines deserve a place in the pantry!
- Good source of omega-3 fatty acids. 1 can (3oz drained) sardines contain about the same amount of omega-3 fatty acids as the same amount of canned salmon. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of heart-healthy fats that play a role in reducing the risks of many health problems, such as heard diseases and cancer.
- Low mercury risk. Sardines are very small fishes so the risks of accumulating mercury is much lower than fishes are larger and have longer life span, such as tuna.
- Low-calorie yet very nutrient-dense. 1 can of sardines in spring water only contains 130 calories, yet it packs 17g protein and nearly 7g of heart healthy fats. In addition, 1 can also provides 25% calcium, 10% iron, 110% vitamin D and 90% selenium of an adult’s recommended daily intake.
- Get some calcium.The bones are soft so you don’t need to worry about picking out the bones. Just eat them and get 25% of your daily need for calcium.
- Easier to get the recommended two servings of fish each week (recommended by Canada’s Food Guide). Canned sardines are readily available all year-round and are fairly affordable, and stores well. Hence, by just keeping a few extra cans at home, you can toss it into whatever main dish you’re making and have more fish.
So, this week’s food challenge has definitely been an eye-opener, a very awesome experience! And this awesomeness that I am experiencing right now makes me want to start on the next food challenge already…even though I haven’t quite figured out what I want to try yet!
So, I’m going to stop writing here and start deciding what I want to test out for next week. Off I go!
Question for you: Do you like canned sardines? If so, what’s your favourite way to eat them? If not, are you going to give it a second chance and try it again after reading about my experience? Let me know!