The Sardine Experiment: Part One

I did not grow up eating fish. My dad doesn’t like it and so, aside from the occasional tuna salad sandwich, fish was never on our table. I didn’t even start to like it myself until I was about 16 years old. The first time I remember eating it and thinking, “Hmm, this is not so bad”, was at my friend Shannon’s house and it was some catfish that her dad had just caught and fried up in cornmeal and served with tartar sauce and hushpuppies and jalapeno-cheese bread and homemade banana ice cream for dessert. I need to get that ice cream recipe.

And… now I’ve digressed.

The thing is, though, is that recently I’ve been thinking a lot about sardines. This is not brand-new. A few times in the last couple of years, I have gotten a wild-sardine-hair up my you-know-what and tried, really tried, to give them a go. After all, they are rich in Omega-3s! They are an excellent source of protein! They are high in calcium! They are low in mercury! They are really cheap!

So, on several occasions now, I’ve gotten a can of sardines and a box of Saltines (hey, they rhyme!) and tried to go to town on that business because I hear it’s the classic and delicious combination. And every time, every G.D. time, I get one or two sardines in and
JUST. CAN’T. DO. IT.

Their little weird bodies get to me and the fishy smell and the oil and the shiny skin and the whole bones thing. It just freaks me out. So I give up and feed them to another animal or just throw them away. And then I feel bad for being wasteful. But then I forget about it, and the following year I decide I’m going to try again. And the cycle repeats, ad nauseum.

But not this time.


This time, I am determined to learn to enjoy sardines. So I went out and bought FIVE different brands to find one I like the best. Once the best brand is established, I will use that one to try out some recipes suggested by readers on the FaceBook page.

These are the brands I chose. I decided to start myself off easy and mostly bought ones that are skinless and boneless.

Ligo brand: These have the skin and bones within, I fear, since no where on the tomato-paste-sized-can does it say otherwise. I got the one packed in tomato and chili sauce, as opposed to the plain tomato sauce. This is a product of the Philippines and was recommended specifically by a reader as a brand to try.
Cost: $0.79 for 5.5 ounces.

Wild Planet brand: I think these, too, have skin and bones, but at least they are “meaty portions” and “sustainably caught along the California coast”. I got the ones that are packed in water. And I suppose it’s worth noting that the can is “certified BPA free”!
Cost: $2.69 for 4.375 ounces

Crown Prince brand: This is a relatively common brand. I got the skinless and boneless, packed in water. They are a product of Morocco and “wild caught” but I am pretty sure that all sardines are wild caught (with a giant net) so that’s not really saying much. However, they are “hand packed” and maybe that’s a big deal.
Cost: $2.99 for 4.37 ounces

Season brand: Also skinless and boneless, I hadn’t seen this brand before. But they are packed in 100% olive oil and have a new “Easy to Open Lid!”. I’ll let you know how that part turns out. Also a product of Morocco.
Cost: $2.99 for 4.375 ounces

Bar Harbor brand: Okay, yes, the package actually says “Wild Herring Fillets”, not sardines, but did you know that sardines and herring are in the same family, Clupeidae?! Taxonomy: Coming back to haunt ya! According to my internet research, herring and sardines are very similar and honestly, the package was just so enticing I had to try it. They’re “sustainably harvested from the clear cold waters of the Gulf of Maine” ferchrissakes! And “naturally wood smoked” and “seasoned with cracked pepper”! Sounds GOURMET if you ask me. BTW, smoked herring fillets are kippers and vice-versa.
Cost: $3.79 for 6.7 ounces

So there we have it. It is my expectation that through these trials, I will find a brand of sardines that is suitable to my palate and will therefore be able to enjoy these fruits of the sea and supply my body with much-needed Omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, and protein, and all the while not poison myself with mercury or contribute to the over-fishing of the oceans. Stay tuned for the results of the taste tests!

63 Comments

  1. Bev Weidner on August 15, 2011 at 8:29 am

    I am so happy that you’re doing this because I FEEL THE SAME WAY. I try, I do. But they’re a little scary.

    So, I’m ready to watch this unfold. I’ll pour my wine and observe. Annnnd go.

    • Hilah on August 15, 2011 at 9:24 am

      Awesome! I hoped this would be helpful and/or interesting to someone besides myself.

      So far, sardine experiments have gone better than expected. Full update next week!

  2. Great Stone Face on August 15, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Good luck with the trial. I’ve been eating canned sardines since I was a kid. My Mom would mash them up with mayonnaise like tuna salad.

    I’ve also had fresh sardines at Maggiano’s at a Mothers Day brunch. Good stuff.

    Right now, we have the Season (in olive oil) can in our pantry. Also, a stack of King Oscar (in olive oil) we got at Costco. Let us know what you think of the ones packed in water. I always figure I have to add something fatty like mayonnaise to make it taste better, so I usually opt for the olive oil packed. There also are mustard sauce packed and probably a bunch of others.

    I also have a can of Season sprats in olive oil that I need to try. The ingredients say they’re brisling sardines, so I don’t know why the can says “sprats.”

    Finally, when you get to it, try kippered herring. If you can get some fresh boneless fillets, then saute them gently in butter. With small boiled potatoes and a couple of fried eggs, you’ll dream you’re in Norway.

    • Hilah on August 15, 2011 at 11:18 am

      Hi GSF!

      I did some research before purchasing and sprats are “brisling sardines”. I think the name “sprat” is more common in Europe and the UK, though. I could be wrong. But there are many different species within the family and I think they all get interchanged in the fishing industry.

      We already tried the smoked herring fillets and they were real good. Can’t wait to try them as you’ve described!

  3. Randy on August 15, 2011 at 11:15 am

    I didn’t have anywhere as close to a fish-free childhood as you (fried catfish was on the table at least twice a month and whenever my grandmother went fishing there was trout), but the only canned fish allowed in the house was tuna. I never acquired a taste for sardines, herring, etc. Over the years I’ve seen that such a taste or lack thereof can even be an issue in relationships (“don’t come near me, Sardine breath!”).

    For the past two or three years, I’ve been working at ridding myself of all of the irrational food phobias I developed as a kid (happily, there aren’t THAT many!). I’m proud to say that I now routinely use anchovies in sauces and soups. And since sardines, herring, etc. are on store shelves right next to anchovies, I’ve been thinking a lot about trying them as well. And then, even though food, other than pizza, is rarely mentioned in them, Stieg Larsson’s trilogy (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, etc.) has really aroused my interest in all things Scandinavian. If you don’t mind, I think I’ll join you in your experiments. I seem to recall that Spec’s has a HUGE selection of canned and bottled fish.

    • Hilah on August 15, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      That would be great, Randy! Keep us posted on your trials!

      I have been using anchovies as a flavoring for a few years now. I like them as that, but I’m not so sure about using them whole on pizzas or salads and such. But if I can do sardines, maybe anchovies have a chance, too.

      • Randy on August 20, 2011 at 1:30 pm

        I overstated the case of me and anchovies. I’ll eat them in anything provided they’ve been stirred into invisibility. I think that developing a love of Thai cuisine and using fish sauce smoothed the way to anchovies for me.

        • Hilah on August 21, 2011 at 11:30 am

          Yeah, I remember the first time I smelled fish sauce on it’s own. Hoo boy. I was not excited.

          But then, someone made pad thai with it and I got over it. Now I kind of like how it smells.

          • Great Stone Face on August 21, 2011 at 12:11 pm

            Worcestershire sauce has anchovies in it.



          • Hilah on August 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm

            Yes it does. I’ve seen vegetarian Worcestershire that doesn’t, but I’ve never tried it. I wonder about it, though.



          • Jamie H. on June 14, 2015 at 11:33 am

            I love trying all kinds of foods from all over the world. Yes there are few, but some that I refuse to eat by looks and smells.
            I love Thai foods. My ex ( a Thai )has made me learn to fix my own foods since I favor homemade over fake Thai restaurants here in the states. Your mentioning of Fish sauce made me want to respond.
            I agree the fish sauce can be very overwhelming. And as mentioned when added to flavor is quite a bit less.
            I add some to almost all meats I fix usually with other spices I have learned over the years that go nicely together. Pork is one of my fav meats I use it on the most. Well during one of my experiments using it as an additional flavor I accidentally got some on the cheap mac and cheese I was serving. Pure Tipiros fish sauce. Wasn’t a lot so I just stirred it into the serving. My family ask what brand of mac and cheese I used because it tasted so cheesier. I had to agree it did taste better than a name brand. When making my mom’s chili soup recipe I add one teaspoon for every pound of ground beef I use. I make my own egg rolls and they would not be complete without the added fish sauce. By the way if I don’t use it my family thinks the food I cook is bland. I think it really brings out all the other flavors more when used. One of my favorite cheap food is Ramen noodles and I use half teaspoon for two packs. BTW , I never tel my family that I use it when I cook. They hate the smell ,but love my fried rice and fried wontons which I make for big family get togethers. When adding it to help others spices I would always suggest do it in small amounts at a time till it taste right for your palate. It made my honey bake pepper chicken breast filets a big hit at family reunion picnic several years ago.
            Sorry I wrote a book.



          • Hilah on June 15, 2015 at 9:15 am

            Thanks, Jamie! Those are some uses for fish sauce that I would not have thought of. Lately, I’ve been using it to marinade chicken, too and it’s turned out so yummy.



          • Jamie H. on June 14, 2015 at 11:40 am

            And I learn something new today from this page, that Worcestershire sauce has anchovies. My elder kids love that (hate my fish sauce). Should I spoil their enjoyment? They also hated oyster sauce, but bought a sauce they didn’t emphasize that and thought it was great in some of the dishes they made. I have finally found a store nearby (50 miles) that has imported fish, oyster and soy sauces of the ones I love to use while cooking. No more Tiporos and LaChoy for me



      • Randy on August 20, 2011 at 1:47 pm

        Last week when I made my first sardine run, other errands prevented me from getting to Spec’s before closing, so I went to Central Market, instead. Their selection pretty much mirrors the brands you’re experimenting with. I ended up buying Crown Prince Kipper Snacks (smoked kippers) and the Season Brand. I decided I will try all of the sardines, unadorned, on Wasa crackers. I loved the kippers. The next day, I tried the Season sardines and was surprised that I really liked them, although not as much as I did the smoked kippers.

        Last night I finally made it Spec’s. Here’s a picture of about half the shelf space they have dedicated to canned ocean species. http://desmond.yfrog.com/Himg735/scaled.php?tn=0&server=735&filename=wgseb.jpg&xsize=640&ysize=640
        I ended up buying 8 different varieties, including some packed in tomato sauce and “spicy” oil. I’ll list them as soon as I can take a decent picture. I’m particularly looking forward to trying two varieties by Goya since I find that most of their products are very good (like olive oil, dried beans, canned beans and rice).

        Thank you for coming up with this great experiment!

        • Hilah on August 21, 2011 at 11:30 am

          Holy Crap! I need to get to Spec’s!

          I’ve tried four of mine, saving the Ligo for last. Although it has the most appealing package design, I’m leery. Final results up tomorrow!

          • Great Stone Face on August 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm

            The Ligo can looks like Goya. They have sardines, too.



  4. Cynthia on August 15, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Hey Hilah…….
    good on ya for trying something!!!! going outside your comfort zone!!!! I love sardines on ciabatta bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with good balsamic vinegar and chili flakes!!!!! yummy 🙂

    p.s.- you should do some swiss food….like fondue’s or raclette

    cheers from the Swiss alps….

    • Hilah on August 15, 2011 at 9:47 pm

      Hi Cynthia!

      That sounds like an AMAZING way to have sardines! I am actually excited to try it! Thank you!

      Fondue is on my list of things to try but I’ve never made it before. Do you have a special recipe?

  5. Patrick Soltis on August 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    When my brother lived in New Jersey he used to get me excellent water-packed sardines from Oliviers & Co. in New York City. They’re excellent — mild-tasting, not salty at all — but I’ll bet they aren’t cheap. I put them in empanadas, like they do in northwestern Spain, or with pasta and fennel, like they do in Sicily.

  6. Patrick Soltis on August 16, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    The Russian stores around here (east suburbs of Cleveland) stock what are billed as “Riga sprats” — “Riga” from the capital of Latvia. They’re a little bit bigger than anchovies but smaller than run-of-the-mill sardines. They’re smoked, packed in oil, with very little salt.

    • Hilah on August 16, 2011 at 2:43 pm

      Ooh, thank you, Pat! There’s a Russian market in Austin actually (surprising) and I’ll check over there to see if they carry them.

      • Rachael Macry on August 17, 2011 at 8:53 am

        where is this Russian market?

        • Hilah on August 17, 2011 at 8:56 am

          It’s called Sasha’s Gourmet Russian Market and Cafe. (Long name!) It’s off of Anderson, near Mopac. They don’t seem to have a website but lots of listings on Yelp, et al.
          I haven’t been there in years but I’m going to try to stop by this weekend and poke around.

          • Great Stone Face on August 17, 2011 at 9:34 am

            Wow, stream of consciousness! Well continuing to stray off the sardine topic, maybe your trip to the Russian market can inspire an episode? Borscht? Stroganoff? Kiev? Vodka? We’ve gone to the Russian stores and cafes in the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, NY. Great stuff!

            If Sasha’s has Russian caravan tea, try some of that. Be careful not to overbrew it — better to underbrew it. Amazon.com says, “Russian Caravan is a blended of Llapsang Souchong with Assam black tea. Lapsang souchong tea leaves are dried in bamboo baskets over pine fires. The Russian Caravan is a medium strong tea that has a smoky aroma and a hint of malt flavor. This tea is perfect for dinner parties. Historically, the Russian Caravan tea was the most important drink after vodka in Russia. During the time of Czar, chest of tea would travel on camelback from China to Moscow. This tea was famous for the smoky smell of the campfire it would absorb along the journey.



          • Hilah on August 17, 2011 at 1:31 pm

            I will definitely ask them about it! Sounds extremely fancy. AND I was just flipping through a magazine and saw a bunch of cocktail recipes using coffee and tea as a base. I smell an experiment coming on. And it smells like booze and tea.



  7. Great Stone Face on August 16, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    Cynthia, I saw a video on sardines today by Alton Brown. He made it sort of like you did, but he mixed the olive oil from the can with sherry vinegar and chopped parsley. Also, he put a layer of mashed Hass avocado between the sardines and the bread. To bring Patrick into this, Brown used sprats.

  8. Rachael Macry on August 16, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    I’ve just never taken to sardines- that 4 month craving for kippers when I was pregnant with my last child notwithstanding. Ahem.

    I thought of you when I ran across this recipe on another blog: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/sherried-sardine-toast-recipe/index.html

    Try it, and then let us know what you think! Kthanks!

    • Hilah on August 16, 2011 at 5:10 pm

      Man, with TWO people mentioning this recipe, I’ll have to try it this weekend! Thanks, Rachael.

      P.S That’s very interesting about your kipper craving. Did you just eat them plain?

      • Rachael Macry on August 17, 2011 at 8:54 am

        Yes plain, right out of the danged can! Never before, never since. Kind of like how I craved extremely rare beef only while I was pregnant with my daughter. Like, dripping red, grosses me out to think of it now.

        • Hilah on August 17, 2011 at 8:55 am

          Oooh, that IS creepy. I love it!

  9. Rachael Macry on August 16, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Oh nevermind, someone beat me to it! Haha!

  10. Paul on August 16, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Occasionally I will have sardines the way my Dad did, well drained and mashed with a little malt vinegar, pepper and salt, spread on buttered toast. Yummy comfort food.

    • Hilah on August 16, 2011 at 5:11 pm

      Thanks, Paul! Malt vinegar seems like an obvious choice, albeit one I probably never would have thought. I’ll give it a go!

  11. Karol Gajda on August 18, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    If you’ve ever seen The ‘Burbs you know sardines are strictly for murderous doctors, their families, and Tom Hanks.

    • Hilah on August 19, 2011 at 1:02 pm

      Yeah, doy! Of COURSE I’ve seen it! I LOVE Tom Hanks! He was the bravest of all those jack-ass neighbors. Except for Bruce Dern. And Corey Feldman. And the fat guy, Art Whats-his-face. I don’t think he was famous

      Man, those guys were really cool.

  12. Robert Kaiser on August 22, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Hilah:

    Congrats on your writeup in Culture Map Austin. May you always be as crazy/funky/cool/beautiful as you are now. When I heard that you were struggling with a way to love these little fishies, I couldn’t help but contribute the following recipe, which I can virtually guarantee you and your adventurous readers will love. Note: the better brands of boneless, skinless sardines have a mild flavor that is not much more off-putting than canned tuna. Here is my recipe, which is a customization of something I found on the web:

    SARDINE PASTA
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 1/4 tsp. Tuscan spice blend, or more, to taste
    • 1 can boneless, skinless sardines packed in olive oil (Angelo Parodi brand is best) Parodi’s are Portuguese, but there are many other good brands that will say ‘Product of Morocco’ on the packaging
    • 1 large or 2 medium of the best tomato you can acquire (homegrown is best)
    • enough spaghetti (or other pasta of your choice) for 2 or 3 servings, cooked to package directions
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 or 2 tbsp Alpino Brand Spicy Pizza topping, if you can find it (optional) If you can’t find this product and want to kick up the spice, be creative and add something of your own choosing
    • freshly grated parmesan

    Heat oil in pan set on medium-low; Sauté garlic and onion until limp. Add salt, pepper and Tuscan spice blend. Add sardines and tomato. Heat through, about 1 minute or until tomato chunks begin to relax and lose their skins. Toss with cooked pasta, sprinkle with Parmesan and serve. Enjoy.

    • Hilah on August 22, 2011 at 11:32 am

      YUMMM! Thank you, Robert!

      I can’t wait to try this! Sounds so easy, too. I think I’ll put it over some sauteed eggplant chunks instead of pasta, since I happen to have an eggplant loitering in my vegetable drawer.

  13. Jon Battle on August 30, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Am a little late to this party…Skinless & Boneless are the only way for me. Crown Prince or Reese are both great brands. You can get them at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Reese-Skinless-Boneless-Sardines-3-75-Ounce/dp/B000FEFET8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1314723086&sr=8-2

    I recently tried Bar Harbor Skinless, Boneless, Smoked Sardines in Maple Syrup. I didn’t care for them. I have 5 can I will gladly give to anyone who wants them.

    I mix my sardines with mayo and have on crackers, english muffin etc. Great stuff.

    • Hilah on August 30, 2011 at 12:50 pm

      Hi Jon! Thanks for joining the sardine party!
      I also tried Crown Prince a couple days ago and was impressed. Haven’t tried Reese, though I have seen them at the store.
      Sardines in maple syrup sounds…interesting? I can’t imagine what you would put them on. What will they think of next?

    • Thia on March 14, 2012 at 2:32 am

      OMGosh! Do you still have them? I’ve recently been looking for them! (Which is how I found this post.)

  14. itin on October 18, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    Philippine-made sardines are saucy and sweet. I prefer them over the giant cans of USA brands.

    • Hilah on October 19, 2011 at 10:09 am

      Hi Itin!
      I only tried one Philippine brand, the Ligo. USA-caught sardines are the hardest to find for me. Moroccan seems to be the most common.

  15. lee on November 6, 2012 at 10:05 am

    My grandfather used to eat ‘sardine and molasses’ sandwiches , he was a lobster fisherman /farmer/winter logger with a team of horses (as I remember it) … and these were common in his house . I myself enjoy sardines with molasses and sliced onion plus a little salt and pepper on lightly toasted bread … It’s inexpensive and healthy .

    • Hilah on November 6, 2012 at 11:44 am

      Whoa! Lee. Number one, your grandfather sounds like he was a fascinating person with tons of great stories. Number two, as bizarre as that combination sounds, I feel compelled to try it. Molasses plus sardines? Talk about a healthy, iron-rich meal! Thank you so much for sharing that interesting recipe idea.

      • lee on November 25, 2012 at 8:24 am

        Yes indeed , Hilah … My ‘Gradpappy’ was a character . He out lived my gradmother by many years and even remarried a woman half his age … I like to think it was the sardine and molasses sandwiches that gave him ‘vigor’.
        I have found that the fishier the fish , the better the compliment molasses has on the sandwich , the rich sweetness cuts thru the fishiness .

  16. Drew on November 24, 2012 at 3:02 am

    Happy National Sardines Day!

    • Hilah on November 24, 2012 at 6:41 pm

      You too, Drew! 🙂

  17. Great Stone Face on November 27, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Mmm, sardines.

  18. James on December 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Try Matiz Gallego, the best sardines I’ve had.
    In the blue box.
    From Spain, they need the money.

    • Hilah on December 4, 2012 at 9:36 am

      Thanks, James!

  19. Michael on October 25, 2013 at 3:04 am

    There is an out of print book called Dr. Frank’s No Ageing Diet. He recommends seafood seven days a week with four of those days being sardine days.

    He recommended the small two layer sardines because they were higher in something (nucleoproteins?)

    I was in my thirties when I tried the diet and I can’t say I saw myself not ageing I did have a strange thing occur. I was playing two hours of non stop basketball a day and I literally could not tire myself out. I always wondered about that until I recently saw a study reported on Phys.org saying that linoleic acid increases the number of mitochrondria in the cells. The mitochondria are the energy producers in the cells and sardines and salmon are high in linoleic acid.

    The diet says sardines four days a week, salmon one day, shell fish one day, and any kind of fish on the seventh. He also recommends liver once a week, tomato juice and all the usual healthy vegetables such as broccoli and brussel sprouts.

    • Hilah on October 25, 2013 at 10:44 am

      Thank you, Michael!
      This is really interesting. I’m going to look for that book.

  20. Steve Austin on January 5, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Brisling sardines are the small ones usually 10+ little fish to a tin.

    Don’t forget to try the flavored ones packed in mustard, hot sauce, tomato sauce, etc but watch the ingredient lists.

    I have found that getting the plane smoked ones (sardines/kipper/herring) and just adding your own sauce is the best. Use em in place of tuna but with less mayo as sardines/kipper/herring have a higher fat content than tuna. Or with diced onion in a sandwich. mashed or whole they are great. I just made a kipper and egg omelet sandwich in whole wheat pita bread with onions, mustard, and ketchup, YUM!!!

    I have even used them to make small fried cakes or burgers YUM YUM

    • Hilah on January 6, 2014 at 4:20 pm

      Thanks, Steve!
      I have a new brand in my pantry I haven’t tried before that I’m looking forward to. Time to update this list soon!
      That’s a great idea about making them into cakes/burgers.

  21. Tim on January 14, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    I grew up with sardines, usually King Oscar or Crown Prince, c/o my dad who enjoyed them right out of the can with saltines – the old fashioned way. I recently had the opportunity to try out the Bar Harbor Brand Skinless Boneless Smoked Sardine Fillets and so how I happen to be here writing this. The initial attraction is that they were from Canada via Maine. They are larger than the King Oscar, Season, or Crown Prince. They are packed in water and are quite good. These days if I get the smaller ones I still enjoy them on saltines. My favorite for the skinless ones is to pan fry them in a little olive oil and parsley and add some fresh lemon at the very end. Then onto the saltines. If you are still having trouble with them, you may find this to be an acceptable alternative. I want to try the sherried sardine toast and spaghetti recipes. I don’t see the ones packed in mustard. If you like mustard, I recommend giving those a try.

    • Hilah on January 16, 2014 at 11:00 am

      I do like mustard! I really like the Bar Harbor brand, too, what I’ve tried from them.

  22. Barbara on March 27, 2014 at 9:24 am

    I was checking to see where the Season brand was caught when I discovered your blog. Thank you! I’d like to hear more.

    • Hilah on March 28, 2014 at 11:19 am

      Welcome, Barbara! This is a fun subject that seems to interest many people. Hope you found some new brands of sardines to try!

  23. gigi on May 22, 2014 at 4:41 am

    Hi Hilah! I haven’t found your update yet, so I don’t know which one you liked. But, I have been eating sardines for more than 40 years. I’m from the Deep South and my Granddaddy loved them and I guess it rubbed off on me. I do pass on the Vienna sausages, though. 🙂 Anyway, what you really want are sardines packed in olive oil, they taste much better than those with tomato or mustard sauces, or water. Also, I NEVER eat the skin and bones because they gross me out, too. The small, two-layer sardines in olive oil are the tastiest, IMO, but, it’s a fair amount of work because I brush off the skin and remove the bones. For that reason, I usually buy the ones that are boneless, skinless and packed in olive oil. They are bigger, so not quite as tasty, but the trade-off in convenience is usually one I make. Hope this helps.

    • gigi on May 22, 2014 at 4:45 am

      Hi Hilah! I haven’t found your update yet, so I don’t know which one you liked. But, I have been eating sardines for more than 40 years. I’m from the Deep South and my Granddaddy loved them and I guess it rubbed off on me. I do pass on the Vienna sausages, though. 🙂 Anyway, what you really want are sardines packed in olive oil, they taste much better than those with tomato or mustard sauces, or water. Also, I NEVER eat the skin and bones because they gross me out, too. The small, two-layer sardines in olive oil are the tastiest, IMO, but, it’s a fair amount of work because I brush off the skin and remove the bones. For that reason, I usually buy the ones that are boneless, skinless and packed in olive oil. They are bigger, so not quite as tasty, but the trade-off in convenience is usually one I make. Hope this helps.

      P.S. Just realized I forgot another critical component. I eat them on saltines, but with hot sauce. Gotta have the hot sauce. Used to be Tabasco, Lousiane or Crystal, but these days I am in love with Cholula – could nearly drink it – so that is my hot sauce of choice.

      • Hilah on May 22, 2014 at 9:25 am

        Hi Gigi!
        Here’s the “part 2” https://hilahcooking.com/best-canned-sardines/
        I need to update it, though! I have several I have tried since then. I have a couple in my pantry I haven’t tried yet, including some of the tiny two-layer ones.
        And you are totally right about the hot sauce! Actually, sometimes I’ll do hot sauce and mustard with sardines on saltines. And they have to be saltines, too. 🙂

  24. Alice on October 17, 2015 at 11:34 am

    I was sitting in the great fall sunshine enjoying a great sardine in mustard sauce sandwich with a coke and wishing we could find those tiny little sardines I was used to as a child. I was surprised to see your blog on sardines when I googled small sardines.

    The wild planet brand you reviewed looked nearer than any we have found lately. Your Ligo (?) and Bar Harbor – which we have bought (ugh) are definitely not it.

    Can you or your readers help us out

    • Hilah on October 17, 2015 at 2:20 pm

      Hi Alice!
      I think the King Oscar Brisling sardines are what you’re looking for. The ones labeled “double layer”. They are very small and good.

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