Could you imagine a true fish aficionado keeping his or her best canned sardines in the kitchen cabinet for very special occasions, and turning the cans once in a couple of months as if they were bottles of good old wine? Well, it is said that there really are those who do just like this. Regardless of whether it is a fact or a myth, here we are to help you find out what makes these small silver fish so favored by many gastronomes all around the world, as not only the affordable price of sardines actually matters.
The well-known name of these fish comes from the picturesque Italian island of Sardinia, washed by the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea. There they have been caught since the very dawn of time. However, the single term “sardine” is considered to group together several different species inhabiting not only the Mediterranean basin, but also the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The other common name for the sardine is “pilchard”. There is almost no significant difference between the two words, but sometimes smaller and younger fishes are called sardines, while their bigger and older relatives are referred to as pilchards.
A sardine is an absolutely inoffensive marine fish. Normally, it can grow up to 12 in (30 cm). Hence small sardines are also a food for larger sea animals. Fishermen use them as bait for larger fishes.
Besides, baby sardines, which are the smallest and the youngest pilchards, can be turned into a unique delicacy, originating from the Japanese coasts. The fresh-caught fishes are boiled in salted water and dried in the sun to different degree. Such treat is a nice, flavorful and nutritious snack.
As for other ways of processing fish, including pickling and canning, younger pilchards are generally much more preferred. Their texture appears to be smoother, and their taste is much richer and milder. These are also considered true gourmet sardines that just cannot leave you cold.
The preservation process starts very soon after the capture. This helps to maintain the freshness and wholesomeness of the fish flavors, as well as its natural nutritional benefits. Despite the fact that nowadays every self-respecting cannery uses the most modern technologies to do the biggest part of the job, the fish are cut, cleaned and then packed into the cans only manually.
Sardines in olive oil, water or tomato sauce are among the world’s favorite and most widely-spread canned fish varieties. Although each of them possesses its own flavor profile, culinary versatility is what unites them all and makes them so regular products lurking in your kitchen cupboard.
Natural qualities of olive oil perfectly highlight the taste of the fish, make its flesh smooth and velvety, as well as add to its content of healthy nutrients. Therefore a can of sardines is a lavish source of many essential vitamins, including the sunshine vitamin D, and minerals, such as calcium and iron. The fish is also valued for being an abundant fountain of omega-3 oils and proteins.
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