Sardines are named after Sardinia, the Italian island where large schools of these fish were once found. While sardines are delightful enjoyed fresh, they are most commonly found canned, since they are so perishable. With growing concern over the health of the seas, people are turning to sardines since they are at the bottom of the aquatic food chain, feeding solely on plankton, and therefore do not concentrate heavy metals, such as mercury, and contaminants as do some other fish.
While there are six different types of species of sardines belong to the Clupeidaefamily, more than 20 varieties of fish are sold as sardines throughout the world. What these fish share in common is that they are small, saltwater, oily-rich, silvery fish that are soft-boned. In the United States, sardines actually refers to a small herring, and adult sardines are known as pilchards, a name that is commonly used in other parts of the world. Sardines are abundant in the seas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean with Spain, Portugal, France, and Norway being the leading producers of canned sardines.
1 pound/450g fresh Sardines
1/2 cup//118ml/64g Cornstarch (you can substitute flour)
1/2 tablespoon/7ml olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, cut in thin slices
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon/5ml tomato paste
1/2 cup/4 ounces/125ml dry white wine
2 tablespoons/30ml white vinegar
2 tablespoons/30ml capers
Remove the heads, guts and back bones. Rinse and pat dry. Dredge in cornstarch.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, saute the sardines in two (2) batches for 1-2 minutes per side. They will be brown and crispy. Remove to a plate, and keep warm. In the same skillet over medium heat, add the onions and cook until they begin to get soft (about 1 minute). Add the garlic and bell peppers, salt and tomato paste, and cook for 30 seconds. Add the wine and vinegar, and allow the mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes or the liquid has reduced by about half, pour the sauce over the sardines. Sprinkle with parsley to garnish. You can let this marinate for up to one hour.