Little Fish, Big Bite by Chef Katie Nicholas


After watching an episode of “Good Eats” the other night, it got me thinking about sardines. The idea of sardines seems to be popping up on the culinary radar as a big trend for 2010. Alton Brown’s “Live and Let Diet,” episode gave viewers information about why and how he recently lost about 50 pounds. One of these reasons he contributes to eating a large amount of sardines, specifically, a sardine and avocado sandwich. After looking into sardines a little more, I found another recipe on that came from the February 2010 issue of Bon Appétit, “Piquillo Pepper and Sardine Tarts,”

photo by Patricia Heal,

photo by Patricia Heal,

resembling the open faced sandwich Alton Brown gave us.
Proving to be a healthy addition to any diet, sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury, but, can people really get over the stigma associated with sardines? Fishy, greasy, mushy, tiny fish from a can?
For a long time wild sardines have been used in Mediterranean cuisine, but recently in the United States, sardines are being fished off the west coast near California, making it possible for a resurgence of this fish. Sardines can pretty much take any kind of cooking method; grilling, roasting, baking, etc. As sustainable fish product, sardines appeal to those consumers that value being eco-friendly.
As I continued my search, I found some restaurants that are cooking these little fish around the U.S. In New York at Anthos, Mediterranean style Chef Michael Psilakis prepares pickled sardines with apple, red cabbage and oregano, meanwhile in San Fransisco, Chef Brett Emerson of Contigo-kitchen + cava is wood-roasting sardines with puntarelle, artichokes and Meyer lemon salsa verde. Chicago is up on this trend as well, at the Publican they are serving Monterey Bay sardines with romesco, mint and kohlrabi. I have yet to try sardines in this new light, but I am thoroughly intrigued by the way these chefs are presenting them. The question is…Would you go to a restaurant and order sardines?


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