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Sardines


Barbara
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Having NO experience with fresh-caught sardines, Marcella Hazan's dicta in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking has been our guide. She insists the best are bought canned or in bulk which are salted. OK. Dean & Deluca sells the salted ones by the pound (or ounce). Following the directions from Ms. Hazan, they need to be soaked and gently separated from their innards, bones and skins. If one MUST preserve the extras for future use, they need to be covered in oil and refrigerated. Well, alrighty.

Dame Edna has a suggestion for those of you who travel by bus or subway: treat a bunch of sardines this way and THEN get on public transportation. You will be guaranteed a seat or a whole bunch of personal space if you find yourself having to stand.

Unless, of course, you find yourself sitting or standing next to a Rockwellian who "appreciates" the wonderful odor of preserved sardines. WOO-HOO :)

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Personally I prefer them straight out of the can, or with maybe a little mayo and a slice of sweet onion on toasted rye.
Canned sardines on saltine crackers is a traditional blue collar "lunch" in New Orleans, and I've been eating them this way forever.

What I am wondering is, is this something that blue collar type workers do everywhere? Typically the type of job where you sit down by the side of the road, and there aren't any lunch trucks coming around.

My favorite canned sardines are the little ones, cross-packed, preferably not in soybean oil. I've had fresh sardines at a tapas place and they just didn't have that "ooomph", the smell that makes non-sardine lovers keel over or jump out of windows to get away from.

Crunch crunch, bones and scales and innards and all.

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I've actually been on a minor quest to find the best of the garden-variety store-bought tins of lightly smoked sardines in oil...another one of those guilty snacking pleasures. My favorite tins so far have been the "Adro" brand from Latvia (medium-sized, very tender), and of all things, BumbleBee sardines (large, still quite tender).

Pretty much everything else in a can from Giant, Safeway and WF has been disappointing, especially the premium brands. The King Oscar brand (Norway) has been relatively tough even in various sizes, and I found WF's Bela sardines (Portugal) insipid and flavorless.

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I've actually been on a minor quest to find the best of the garden-variety store-bought tins of lightly smoked sardines in oil...another one of those guilty snacking pleasures. My favorite tins so far have been the "Adro" brand from Latvia (medium-sized, very tender), and of all things, BumbleBee sardines (large, still quite tender).

Pretty much everything else in a can from Giant, Safeway and WF has been disappointing, especially the premium brands. The King Oscar brand (Norway) has been relatively tough even in various sizes, and I found WF's Bela sardines (Portugal) insipid and flavorless.

I gotta confess my ignorance on this one, as I've never eaten sardines. Do you grill 'em? Pan fry 'em? Eat 'em right out of the can?

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I gotta confess my ignorance on this one, as I've never eaten sardines. Do you grill 'em? Pan fry 'em? Eat 'em right out of the can?
I've never heard of doing anything to canned sardines except eat them from the can. Well, drain the oil and dump them on a plate is what I do. (Feed the oil to your cat or dog if you don't mind extreme fish breath.)

Some people eat them on rye bread with onions, some on crackers, some on toast.

However, I just googled a bit and see people also put them into dips, spreads, and on pizza, in fritters, and even bread them and deep fry them. Whoof! I prefer anchovies for pizza, myself.

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I gotta confess my ignorance on this one, as I've never eaten sardines. Do you grill 'em? Pan fry 'em? Eat 'em right out of the can?

I'm guessing Ilaine's treatments are for canned sardines, but I like them fresh -- I can get my Sardinian on with the best of them.

They are a great fish in that they have a very "fishy" taste, but are small enough that they don't overwhelm you. I've had them grilled with olive oil and lemon and fileted and marinated (at 2 Amys, IIRC). If they get old, or are overcooked, they get nasty quick. But fresh and delicately prepared they are quite good.

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I am told that the best way to buy (preserved) sardines is to get them packed in salt. True? Well, if this is the case I have NEVER found any. Do they only sell them to the restaurants?

I believe that Vace has them in their deli case.

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Speaking of seafood, after a trip to NY in which I got my fill of sardines, I'm craving them. I'm not sure that I should admit to such a weird craving, but whatever. Where else can I get sardines as a first course? I've had them at Dino and Sushi Taro, but haven't seen them many other places. Where can I find them and what are they paired with? Thanks so much.
While this topic started out asking about restaurants and dining, 2 1/2 years later we're now talking about shopping. Why not cooking, too?

So, I am going to address MeMc's question by plugging pasta con le sarde. I use inexpensive canned sardines and therefore don't need the semolina. I also make a version that skips the tomatoes altogether. Toss fresh bread crumbs with olive oil and sauté till golden as a topping. Love, love, love braised fennel w fish and this is one of the best ways to combine the two.

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While this topic started out asking about restaurants and dining, 2 1/2 years later we're now talking about shopping. Why not cooking, too?

So, I am going to address MeMc's question by plugging pasta con le sarde. I use inexpensive canned sardines and therefore don't need the semolina. I also make a version that skips the tomatoes altogether. Toss fresh bread crumbs with olive oil and sauté till golden as a topping. Love, love, love braised fennel w fish and this is one of the best ways to combine the two.

this is dangerous territory. you really have to know what you are doing if you stray from a recipe, and rachel ray did someting like this on her show, which i was foolish enough to try. the results would have just about closed down a restaurant. also, i have followed a few mario batali recipes and don't feel that they are especially matched to cooking at home. i recall his chestnut soup turning into more of a sludge. i would look up first what marcella hazan has to say about sardines, although i don't have any of her books on me right now.

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this is dangerous territory. you really have to know what you are doing if you stray from a recipe, and rachel ray did someting like this on her show, which i was foolish enough to try.
huh?

You may not realize that I was not following Batali's recipe; I only linked it because it was the first that I retrieved online that I respected.

Second, you imply I don't know what I am doing. Them's fighting words. Cf. egullet cooking threads in the Italian regional forum, looking particularly at the topic devoted to Sicilian food and contributions from Pontormo. I knew a lot about Italian regional food before I became Pontormo.

On a kinder, gentler note which I'll adopt despite being compared to Rachael Ray, let me say I have had plenty of failures in my life as a home cook whether I was straying from following a recipe to the letter or following it faithfully.

Nonetheless, I am repeating the wisdom of many DR members and culinary professionals that include Lidia Bastianich when I say that most recipes are to be treated as sources of inspiration rather than Bibles in the hands of ....well, we don't want to go there, here.

Besides, what do you think Sicilians did with wild fennel and sardines before the introduction of the tomato? Thus, the precedents for my unoriginal recommendations. :P

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huh?

You may not realize that I was not following Batali's recipe; I only linked it because it was the first that I retrieved online that I respected.

Second, you imply I don't know what I am doing. Them's fighting words. Cf. egullet cooking threads in the Italian regional forum, looking particularly at the topic devoted to Sicilian food and contributions from Pontormo. I knew a lot about Italian regional food before I became Pontormo.

i'm sure you know what you are doing, but for those who don't i would start out cautiously. (rachel ray looked like she knew what she was doing, but i don't believe she did.)

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