Spanish sardines is one dish that I have long been wanting to learn because it comes in handy for church activities. For one, it is something that can be cooked ahead. I like that for then I can cook a gigantic pot days before an event and then do not have to worry about a dish on the day of the event itself. Secondly, it can feed a crowd — a big pot could feed up to 50! It also means it could feed your family for weeks!
Thirdly, sardines is cheap — would you believe that at the time I did this, sardines (also called tamban or tuloy or malalangsi in Cebuano) was sold for only 15 pesos a kilo here? (Okay, it has since gone up to 60 pesos a kilo, but still, it helps to have this recipe around, ready for times when schools of sardines hit the shores.) Fourthly, Spanish sardines is delish — spicy, salty, oily and bone-tender sardines peppered with tangy, melt-in-your-mouth cucumber pickles and carrot circles. Lastly, this is really healthy as it’s just omega-3-rich fish cooked in spices and coconut oil.
I don’t think you could find this recipe in any other cooking site or blog. Trust me, I have been hunting down a recipe for spanish sardines that can be cooked sans pressure cooker or canning bottles for a long time now, and to no avail. I made 3 try-outs to come up with this recipe. The first one was a fail as I did not arrange the fishes in layers and the spices did not permeate the fish evenly. The second was a bit off as it lacked some deep flavors. I finally cinched the dish on the third try — as my family and last week’s church campers said so — and have since then made two more batches.
I highly recommend this recipe for Spanish sardines fans out there. This does taste the same as the pricey bottled ones — minus the MSG of course.
Homemade Spanish Sardines (without the need for a pressure cooker and canning bottles.)
Note: Click on the links to read up on the nutritional profiles of the ingredients.
- 3 kilos sardines
- salt (unrefined sea salt), about 4 to 5 tablespoons
- black peppercorns, about 3 tablespoons
- bay leaves, about 8 pieces, torn
- sweet pickles (whole, sliced thinly), 1 bottle
- 1 big carrot, cut into thin circles
- whole green or red chili pepper, depending on your taste
- coconut oil, 500 ml
- 6 cups water
- Carefullly arrange a layer of sardines on the bottom of a big stainless steel pot. Make sure the fishes are arranged tightly yet in a single, non-overlapping layer.
- Salt the fish layer the way you would salt fish when frying, about a teaspoon for a single layer of fish.
- Sprinkle some black pepper corns, about half a teaspoon per layer of fish.
- Add some torn bay leaves, about 2 bay leaves per layer of fish.
- Arrange half a handful each of sweet pickles, carrot circles and chili pepper.
- Repeat steps 1 to 5 until all the fishes have been layered.
- Pour in the juice of the sweet pickles.
- Add in enough oil as to cover the fish.
- Pour in 6 cups of water. (Note: a cup of water per kilo of fish.)
- Cover the pot with a lid and bring the pot to a boil. As soon as it boils, bring down heat to a simmer and let it simmer for about 6 to 8 hours.
- You’ll know it’s done when all the water has boiled away, the oil has turned brownish, fish meat is compacted, browned and softened all the way to their bones.
This goes so well with my lacto-fermented, probiotic Sauerkraut and Curtido. How about you, would you like to try this recipe? Please do tell me how it goes.