When most people think of sardines, they think of the canned variety. Devoid of much taste except a pungent fishy one, they aren’t too delightful. But what about fresh sardines? Because it is such a lowly fish, most Americans give little thought to this fabulous treat. But throw a little sea salt on a few fresh sardines, maybe a spice rub, throw them on the grill, and you have a wonderful, flavorful dinner. In Portugal, grilled sardines are eaten as street snacks and are quite popular.
Why eat sardines? Other than the fact that they are quite delicious when served just off the grill, they are very healthy for you. Sardines provide an excellent source of:
- Vitamin D (to protect your bones)
- Omega-3 Fats (to protect your heart)
- Vitamin B-12 (for your brain and nervous system)
- Selenium (to prevent cell damage)
- Co-Enzyme Q10 (thought to be helpful in fighting heart disease)
In addition, because sardines are tiny little fish, they are low on the food chain. They have lower levels of mercury and other fat-soluble poisons than other big fish like tuna.
Now, for the tricky part. Where to find them? Most Whole Foods stores will actually get them for you if ask for them on special request. Not too long ago, a customer at the Petaluma Whole Foods asked for several pounds and the boyfriend and I were lucky enough to be able to score some extras. Just ask the fishmonger. You can also try asking your local supermarket or checking the Asian supermarkets near you.
For more inspiration, check out this post on sardines galore on Chowhound.com!