How we love sardines

How we love sardines

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If you follow food trends, you’ll know that tinned fish and seafood have been in the spotlight for some time with no signs of retiring soon. Having cracked more than our share of cans, we support this tinned fish movement wholeheartedly! And when it comes to sardines, there's one brand that stands out among the shoal for us: Cantara. Sourced from the pristine waters of the Atlantic, their Portuguese small sardines are a cut above the rest. No unpleasant fishy aftertaste, just pure, clean flavour that'll have you hooked from the first bite.

So, what sets Cantara apart from your run-of-the-mill tinned sardines? It all comes down to quality - sourcing, processing, ingredients (vegetable oil vs. extra virgin olive oil) and sustainability. Cheaper sardines are usually more fragile, with a mushy texture and pronounced fishiness that is fine for mixing into dishes, but if you prefer sardines with a firm, plump texture and a clean, oceanic flavour – then you'll want to go for the good stuff. Cantara sardines are sustainably caught, carefully filleted and packed in luxurious Spanish extra virgin olive oil.

Now that you've got your hands on some top-notch tinned sardines, let's talk about how to make the most of them:

Sardines on toast

You really can’t go wrong with sardines on a slice of crusty bread or lavosh to appreciate the flavour and quality of the fish. You can spread the toast with a generous amount of salted butter, or add a handful of extra toppings:

  • Sliced preserved lemon, crispy fried capers, and shallots pickled in champagne vinegar (what we’ve done in the image above)
  • Drizzle on agrodolce, olive oil and a sprinkling of fresh herbs
  • Slather the toast with aioli and top the sardines with sliced cornichons
  • Scottish style: mash drained sardines with a fork, butter the toast liberally, spread mashed sardines on toast and broil until bubbling and the edges are crisp

Sardine pasta

Add a tin of sardines to a sauce of sautéed tomatoes, chilli and garlic (balanced with a touch of sugar and wine vinegar). Fold through paccheri or rigatoni pasta and finish with olive oil, chopped dill and fried breadcrumbs.

Fried sardines

Pour the oil from a tin of sardines into a small frypan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, carefully add the fish, frying for a few minutes on each side or until browned and crispy. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a bright sauce like salsa verde.

Ginisang sardinas

An easy Filipino weeknight dish to serve with rice. Sautée onion, garlic and a chopped tomato until softened. Add one tin of sardines, one or two tablespoons of soy sauce and a splash of water, then simmer for 5 minutes. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice (or calamansi if you have it!), plenty of black pepper and a little salt if needed. Serve with rice and steamed bokchoy.

Crispy rice with spiced sardines and eggs

Tinned sardines can come smoked or packed in a flavourful sauce like these small sardines in piri piri. Use the spicy, flavourful olive oil from the can to fry cooked rice until crisped into crunchy clumps. Top with the sardines, a couple of fried eggs, creamy sliced avocado, spring onions and finish it all with a squeeze of lime juice.

Sardine Pate

Blend one tin of sardines, along with the olive oil they’re packed in, with 30g of unsalted butter, one chopped shallot, a squeeze of lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs to create a luxurious spread that's perfect for slathering on lavosh or crusty bread.

Salad Nicoise

Swap out the classic tuna in this salad for sardines! Make a salad of butter lettuce, blanched green beans, tomatoes, red onion, olives, hardboiled eggs and boiled potatoes. Add one or two tins of sardines. Dress with the olive oil from the sardines, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper and a scattering of fresh herbs like tarragon, chives or parsley.

Noodles with chilli oil and sardines

Fry sliced garlic and roughly chopped pak choy until tender. Add drained sardines, a large splash of light soy sauce, a little rice wine vinegar and a spoonful of chilli oil, stir frying for a minute or two to break up the fish. Throw in cooked egg noodles (or pappardelle in a pinch) and toss to combine. Serve with thinly sliced cucumber and an extra drizzle of chilli oil. 

Don’t waste the oil!

Make a pil pil sauce by emptying the remaining olive oil and sardine juices from the tin and emulsify with an electric whisk or a small blender. It becomes a rich and savoury sauce that's perfect for drizzling over the sardines, vegetables or using as a dipping sauce.

Cantara sardines can be found in-store or online for delivery to anywhere in Australia.

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