February 22, 2019

Portuguese Style Spicy Sardines

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I can't explain why I suddenly have an appetite for spicy Portuguese sardines. I seldom ate them. Recently, I found out I really really like them on toasted crusty bread and also with steamed rice. Suddenly, the stores don't sell the Nuri Portuguese brand anymore. Any other brand of spicy sardines is not good enough, not even the ones made in the Philippines. The Portuguese Nuri brand is available from Amazon but I find the cost too steep at $5.00 to $6.00 per tin. That's $1.00 for each tiny baby sardine! I don't know about you but I'm not willing to pay that much for tinned sardines.

Because I'm cheap and obsessed, and I believe I can cook spicy sardines myself, I went to the Asian store and bought the smallest fresh sardines. It was a chore to remove the heads and clean out the innards but it was worth the trouble. Cooking the sardines in a pan was easy and it came out great with noticeable bite.

A pressure cooker is not necessary and the bones came out super soft just like the ones in tins, you won't even notice them. I was eating them nonstop every single day for about a week until I was fully sated. I still eat them once every Friday.

I looked for recipes online but all I could find are the ones with tomato sauce which I absolutely can't eat. I find it yucky! Not surprising, a few recipes I found were prepared by Filipinos. I never knew they love their sardines and other bottled fish. Just look at the variety of sardines that they sell there in the Philippines!

Portuguese Style Spicy Sardines
1 pound small fresh sardines
1¼ teaspoons sea salt
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced sweet pickles
4 bird's eye chile
1 clove garlic, peeled
¼ teaspoon assorted peppercorns (black, white, green, pink)
2 bay leaves
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • With gloved hands and a pair of kitchen shears, cut off the sardine heads, clean the guts, and rinse thoroughly under running water. Carefully dry with paper towels.
  • Layer half the fish, half of the carrots and pickles, and chiles in a stainless steel pan or pot, then sprinkle half of the salt. Add garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Layer the rest of sardines and sprinkle with the remaining salt, carrots, and pickles. 
  • Add the olive oil and top with water to cover. Sardines must be submerged completely.
  • Turn heat to medium and let come to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover, and simmer until liquid is reduced to ¼ cup, about 2 hours. 
  • Remove garlic and discard. 
  • Enjoy warm on crusty toast or hot steamed rice. 
  • Transfer leftover into a wide mouth glass jar and refrigerate. Reheat in a frying pan over low heat before serving. 


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