RECIPE: LEMON SARDINES

Growing up, sardines came from a can. Not because my parents were poor, but because their mothers had both bought a lot of storable canned food, influenced by World War Two.

Canned sardines, in spring water or olive oil, make a great addition to a salad or can be eaten as a portable snack. Sardines are an excellent source of protein, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, vitamin B12, phosphorus, niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin D and iodine. Sardines themselves are zero carb.

Reading Tin Can Cook by national treasure Jack Monroe, I discovered a recipe for lemon-roasted sardines. which requires a lemon or lime, thinly sliced, two 90g cans of sardines, plus salt and pepper. Evidently, Jack Monroe found a special offer in a Spanish supermarket (3 cans for a Euro) and fed her friends on this for a whole week.

One of my best memories of Portugal, was eating fresh sardines, barbecued by the fishermen, next to their boats.

Iceland has just started selling 500g trays of frozen prepared Cornish sardines (pilchards). Headed and gutted, the sardines still have their tails. They can be cooked from frozen on a barbecue, under the grill or in the oven.

Iceland Sardines 500g | Fish Fillets | Iceland Foods 4.50 or 3 for £10 to 21/06/22

The sardines contain bones. Most people just crunch them up, but if the sardines are cooked, the spines can be removed easily in one piece. As a commis silver service waitress in a 4 star hotel, I would fillet cooked fish at the table and use a spoon and fork, to remove the spine, with a theatrical flourish.

500g Cornish sardines
1 organic lemon, quartered (could use more)
salt and pepper (optional)
black and/or green olives (optional) eg
Gino D’Acampo Organic Pitted Nocellara Olives – ASDA Groceries
Gino D’Acampo Organic Pitted Leccino Olives – ASDA Groceries
drizzle of Frank’s RedHot Original cayenne pepper sauce or similar, without artificial flavourings, additives, preservatives, colour, sugar or sweeteners eg
Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce – ASDA Groceries (optional)

Just remove packaging, use foil tray or transfer to baking tray, add quartered lemon (s), olives, sauce (if using)

Centre of pre-heated oven 180C fan or Gas 7. 18-20 mins.

Relatively cheap, good freezer standby for pescatarians, will feed a horde of people at the BBQ with other things or a large family. If doing a self-catering staycation, in a kitchen with a freezer/icebox, this would be a quick meal.

Taste-tested and they are flavourful and much bigger than canned sardines. Some may find the bones offputting but removing them just takes a bit of patience.

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