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It is regrettable that tinned sardines are consumed in far greater quantity in the UK than fresh ones and I wonder how many of us in this country have ever sampled the fresh fish?


Sardines are simply baby pilchards and take their name from Sardinia where they were found in abundance. From the Clupeidae family of which the herring, shad and sprat also belong they are very popular around the Mediterranean, sardines weighing little more than four to five ounces are eaten fresh or immediately preserved, as the tiny fish do not travel well. Commonly preserved with salt or immersed in brine or oil they make wonderful tapas and hors-d’oeuvres.

Fresh sardines are covered in delicate scales, which come away with the fingers in cold water. I like to cook them with some good olive oil, fresh (or preserved) lemon, paprika, and plenty of salt and pepper. They cook very quickly and are perfect with some warm baguette, a crisp green salad and a glass of cold Sancerre.

Content and picture © Miles Collins