When I was younger, I used to be the cornflakes and French fries kind of girl … that means I wasn’t very keen on trying new things, but rather stuck to what I already knew and liked. Fortunately, that changed as soon as I started cooking for myself. Only then I learned about all the deliciousness I’ve missed for a large part of my life, with canned sardines leading the way. During my time as a student I began to admire the saltiness of this oily little treat and the fact that it’s quite cheap and doesn’t need storage space in the fridge (which was not bigger than two pizza cartons stacked on top of each other at the time) were reasons enough for me to live off them, especially during exam weeks. Also, in most cases, the freshly caught fish gets processed into canned fish the same day as it has been caught, so that all the delicious flavours and nutrients are preserved. Fish in a can is simply amazing, isn’t it?

Back then, I was rather economical. Most of the time, I ate the fish straight out of the can with a chunk of bread to soak up the oil. It was clearly delicious, but there comes the time for every dish that it just doesn’t satisfy me anymore. That’s when I decided to spice up my sardine game and went on a quest for delicious recipes with canned sardines. Stay tuned for my favourites!

Unadon with a Twist

Those of you who know their way around the Japanese cuisine, Unadon might probably ring a bell. It’s a simple but absolutely mouth-watering dish that actually consists of white rice and nicely marinated eel fillets. For reasons of simplicity, however, I like to replace the eel with canned sardines and trust me: it really doesn’t hurt the taste!

The key to this recipe is the marinade: take a sauce pan and add half a cup of water, half a cup of vinegar, half a cup of molasses, a full cup of dark sugar and soy sauce, as well as some smoked paprika flavour to resemble the BBQ-effect, as the dish is usually prepared on a charcoal grill. Cook the sauce for ten minutes on low heat and finish with a teaspoon of cornstarch for a nicer colour and texture. Now all you need to do is cover your sardine fillets in the delicious sticky sauce and place them on top of a bowl of steamed white rice. Top off with spring onions and sesame seeds and you’re done! Now that’s an upgrade I never knew I needed!

Eggplant and Sardine Korma

This one is the perfect dish for when it’s cold outside and you want to heat up from the inside. You start with pouring the oil from the sardines can into a sauce pan and add two teaspoons of korma paste, as well as a sliced onion. Fry the mixture for some minutes and deglaze with a can of coconut milk. Cut an eggplant into large chunks and add it to the sauce. Cook them for at least 15 minutes on medium low heat. Finally, add a can of roasted coconut juice, a handful of cashew nuts and the sardine fillets to the pan. Be careful not to mush the fillets as they can be quite fragile. 

This dish is amazing as a stew, but you can also eat it as a sauce for potatoes, pasta, rice or bread.

Sardine Spread

I’ve loved tuna spread on a freshly baked baguette for like forever, but a few months ago I decided that it’s about time for something new. No problem at all! I simply swapped the canned tuna, which has been a truthful companion for years, for a nice can of sardines. And what should I say? Game-changing!

The recipe is easy and up for individual touches. I mush together canned sardines with cream cheese in equal amounts, mix in chopped spring onions and season the spread to taste. The sardine paste is perfect for finger food buffets offered with some fresh bread or crackers, as well as the basis for filled tortilla wraps with lettuce, avocado and cucumber. It’s also a great emergency snack for unexpected visitors. Either way, prepare yourselves for a taste experience, you’ll be remembering for quite some time!

What’s your go-to canned superfood? Any recipe ideas? Let us know in the comment section.

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