If there were ever a title for champion of the ocean, then the amazing sardine would be a heavyweight performer. Sardines are named after the Italian island, Sardinia, where large schools of these fish were found during the 15th century. Regarded as one of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet, sardines feed on plankton, which make them extremely sustainable, and do not concentrate heavy metals, such as mercury and contaminants, as other fish do.
What I particularly love is that these little beauties are definitely making a comeback and are appearing more and more in cookbooks and magazines, on TV and, most importantly, on dinner plates – more than ever, it seems, people are committed to searching out the best possible ingredients for optimal health.
A 90g serving of sardines offers more than three times our daily vitamin B12 requirements and around 90 per cent of our selenium requirements, not to mention more than 60 per cent of our daily omega-3 needs and loads of vitamins D, calcium, vitamin B3 and choline.
If that isn’t enough to tempt you, then perhaps the fact that they are delicious and one of my all-time favourite seafoods to cook will push you over the edge.
I have included a super-simple recipe here for miso soup with sardines and seaweed, and you can either use fresh or tinned sardines or even sardines from a jar, as long as they are top quality – yes, tinned sardines do get the tick of approval as long as they are in a BPA-free tin. Interestingly, some top restaurants actually serve sardines in the tin, as the quality is that good.
If you are using fresh sardines then look for ones that smell fresh, are firm to the touch and have bright eyes and shiny skin. Although they will keep for a few days, it is always best to cook and eat them as soon as possible; my tip is to eat the entire sardine: head, tail, bones, the lot. This way, you will be not only be eating nose-to-tail, which is the most sustainable way of consuming food, but you will also be getting the most nutrients.
Cook with love, heart, laughter and whole sardines.