Sardines are named after the island of Sardinia, where they were once found in abundance. Found in shoals throughout the Atlantic and Mediterranean, sardines have a silver skin and a rich-flavoured flesh that is dark in colour.
A very healthy oily fish, older sardines are known as pilchards. Tinned sardines are also common, and while they lack the subtlety of taste of the fresh fish, they are a useful storecupboard ingredient.
Choose the best
Sardines do not travel well, so choose fish caught as locally as possible. Select bright-eyed, fresh looking fish with shiny skin.
Scale and gut your sardines before use. This is quite simple - just remove the head and twist the backbone out.
Sardines do not keep well, and should be eaten as fresh as possible.
Sardines are best treated simply - grill, barbeque or fry them with simple Mediterranean accompaniments.
Try anchovy or mackerel.