Today's post comes from my good friend Jen from Mud On Her Boots. We decided a little while ago to do a mini series on everyone's favorite canned fish, Sardines. You can find my recipe over on her site, HERE. One of the things I love about Jen is her sense of humour. She's witty, dry, and sensible. I like it! I first met her last year at Food Bloggers of Canada's conference and we've been friends since. She loves all things simple, clean eats, and homemade. Just look at her homemade lip balm! Check out her site and follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest because she's fierce.
Sardine Pan Bagnat
Jared and I were talking one day, you know, as totally normal people do, and we decided it'd be fun to do guest posts on each other's blogs (guest post, holla!!). Jared, being the connoisseur he is, said he wanted to do a post on sardines. And I was like, "pardon me while I puke, I'm going to write a post on something a little less fishy over here". But then I got to thinking, why should Jared have all the sardines fun!! And thus, our sardines brainchild was born: a creation of two totally different sardine-centric recipes that we’d feature on each other’s blogs! I mean, that's really how all great conversations go, don't they?!?
I'm so happy to be hanging out over here at the The Hesitant Chef. Jared's cool beans and has this brew/food/friends gig on lock. I like him a lot, even if I am still waiting for a pint of that Orange Creamsicle Ale...just sayin'.
But back to sardines.
What can be said about sardines?? I feel like I want to start the sentence with ahhhhh sardines: the pantry staple. To be honest, until a few years ago, if the word sardines was mentioned, I'd instantly envision someone's grandparent, telling a cautionary tale that involved carrying a baked potato in their pocket to keep warm while walking 40 miles barefoot in the snow to get to school where there was no heat and all 15 kids in the class shared one pencil. And the moral of the story was, if you were lucky you got to eat sardines on toast with a little ketchup, and if you weren't you had to settle for rocks and air.
Listen: I know it’s hard to think of sardines as something that could possibly taste good unless unceremoniously drowned in ketchup (much like I do to my husband's *ahem* delicious scrambled eggs). But here's the big secret: they're actually pretty good. Them olden day folks with their sardines and crazy ideas actually had something great going on!
Let's hear it for sardines
Yes, sardines come in those weird, flat cans that you have to crank back the lid on, like cat food. And yes, sometimes when you open the tin, those sardines will be all snugly lying there, in a perfect row, well, like, sardines, staring at you with those beady little eyes, probably quietly judging you. But don't let that dissuade you.
Sardines are vitamin and mineral powerhouses, full of vitamins B12, B3 and D, selenium, and phosphorus. They're rich in protein, and because they're an oily fish, contain high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are amazing for cardiovascular health.
Need another reason? Sardines (like other small fish) have much lower amounts of mercury and heavy metals present in their systems. This is for a couple of reasons. For one thing, they're small. They're caught younger, and they feed only on plankton; all of which mean that the sardines don't accumulate as many toxins. Larger fish like tuna and salmon, on the other hand, feed on other fish and typically live for longer, which can result in a toxic stew in their systems, thanks to bioaccumulation (fancy talk for ingesting a ton of gunk because people suck and pollute the oceans).
You know the old saying, there's plenty of fish in the sea? Well, there are. And there aren't. Know what I mean? Overfishing has done a lot of damage to our ocean ecosystems, which is sort of the understatement of the century (kind of like, I ate a potato chip last night. What?!? I did!! See. Understatement. Because I couldn't eat just one. Obviously.) Arguably, like much of our ocean ecosystem, sardines run the risk of being overfished. However, by choosing US or Canadian Pacific sardines that are purse seine caught, you are ensuring that the by-catch (or other fish that get tangled up in the sardine harvest) percentage is very small. Don't believe me? Talk to David Suzuki...he knows.
Sardines are really easy to find. Any grocery store will have them. They're typically packed in oil. You can get them whole, with cute little heads and all, or all filleted up and ready to go.
Sardine Pan Bagnat
This sandwich is a great way to enter the world of sardines. It's a pan bagnat, which is french for bathed bread. And who doesn't like bathed bread, amiright?!? Basically a pan bagnat is a French nicoise salad smushed in between two chunks of good crusty bread. And instead of tuna, this sandwich is jam packed with sardine-y goodness! The best part about a pan bagnat is that it tastes better when it sits for a while. As in overnight. Meaning, no pressure entertaining! Hello!!
So, moral of this story: sardines are good and good for you. Ask your grandma: she knows.
Sardine Pan Bagnat
1 tin of sardines packed in oil, drained
¼ cup red onion, finely minced
½ cup black olives, nicoise if you can find them, otherwise any black olive will do
1 Tablespoon capers, roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon sundried tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (about ½ a lemon)
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon grainy mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Greens: arugula, mesclun, romaine, bibb: it’s all good!
Finely sliced cucumbers
Optional, but lovely: hard boiled egg slices, tomatoes, more red onion
½ baguette or two medium-sized crusty rolls of your choice
Open the can of sardines and drain it. Dump contents into a large bowl, and mash with a fork. Add the onions, capers, sundried tomatoes, and olives.
Give it a little mix, then add some salt and pepper.
In a small lidded jar, add all vinaigrette ingredients. Put lid on and shake vigorously until well-combined.
Cut the baguette (or whatever kind of crusty bun you prefer) in half lengthwise. Scoop out a bit of the nice insides of the bread. Then eat it. Don't ask: just do. Heap sardine mixture on bottom half of bun. Slowly drizzle sardine mixture with 1/2 of the vinaigrette.
Top sardine mix with thinly sliced cucumbers and lettuce. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Drizzle remaining vinaigrette on the inside of the top bun. Give it a second to soak in, then invert and pop on top of the sardine and lettuce, closing up your sandwich.
Wrap sandwich tightly in cling wrap and toss in fridge for at least 4 hours (overnight is best).
Take out of fridge, unwrap, slice, and enjoy!!