Tips on How to Enjoy Eating Sardines

Are you a fan of canned sardines? I am posting this question because I know of some people who don’t like it; I’m a bit curious and would want to know the reason why.

Personally, I like eating canned sardines though I can say that this is one of the foods that I can live without. I don’t really crave nor experiment some recipe with it but I make sure to stock a few cans just in case the need arises.

If you grew-up in the Philippines, chances are that your pantry is filled with different canned goods and probably canned sardines make-up at least 25 percent of your supply. This has been the practice of most people because preserved or non-perishable foods are necessary in order to survive during typhoons (the Philippines is hospitable enough to welcome at least 15 typhoons a year). I think that this was the main reason that forced me to try sardines when I was still a child – and eventually got used to it. Aside from this, I also learned that sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids: this is responsible in reducing occurrence of cardiovascular diseases and may also decrease the possibility of developing Alzheimer’s disease.


I usually eat a heavy meal during breakfast. Any entrée would do as long as there is rice (plain rice or garlic rice) on the side. I usually consume the leftover foods from the night before (its one way to live a frugal life) – but today is different. There were no leftovers, I haven’t had coffee yet to give me some boost, and I’m really starving. This makes me a starving lazy man that would grab almost anything to satisfy that growling stomach. This is an emergency – I thought. Its time to open some canned sardines that have been sitting in the pantry for a few months.

Eating sardines fresh from the can does not work for me. It has to be cooked one way or another to make it more appealing. For this meal, I sautéed some garlic and onions before pouring the sardines (this is the regular canned Philippine sardine in tomato sauce) then allowed it to cook for a few minutes. I smell something fishy – can’t do anything about it since it is fish that I’m cooking. What I can probably do is to neutralize or lessen the fishy taste: I simply do this by squeezing some lemon or some local lime (known as calamansi) over the sautéed sardines. This is the simplest and fastest method to prepare sardines – at least that I know of.

There are other ways to make your sardine meal more enjoyable or at least encourage you to try having some. Here are some suggestions:

  • Add some vegetables – adding vegetable in cooking canned sardines is not a bad idea; in fact, it is considered as a healthy combination. Imagine getting all the health benefits that are already present in sardines plus the vitamins and minerals that you can derive from the vegetable of your choice.Bottle gourd (upo) and angled luffa (patola) are the common vegetables cooked with sardines. These vegetables are sautéed with the sardines; an addition of some spices and a little water is also needed. Aside from that, this is also a good way to manage your tight budget and save you money. You see – the vegetables also act as fillers that increase the serving size of your dish.
  • Combine with noodles – There are several recipes out there involving canned sardines and noodles. In fact, some are even delicacies in certain regions of the Philippines. The most common noodle added to sardines is the thin flour noodle locally known as “Miswa”. I was able to stumble upon Lalaine’s post in her blog  about this; you might be interested in knowing how to cook Ginisang Sardinas at Miswa. Odong is another sardine dish that you might be interested in. Popular in the southern part of the Philippines, odong is cooked by adding short yellowish spaghetti-like noodles (also known as “odong”) with the sardines. Market Man elaborates this topic in his blog.
  • Create a fancy snack – A fancy what? You read it right; sardines can also be eaten as a snack (just make sure to brush your teeth afterwards). A fancy snack can be some kind of sardine sandwich or a pandesal pizza perhaps.I am assuming that making pandesal pizza is a no brainer for everyone. You can make pandesal anytime by following our pandesal recipe post – we’ll be using sardines for the topping –of course. All you need to do is slice the pandesal in half and top the cut part with sardines. You may also top it with some grated cheese of your choice if preferred.Don’t be grossed-out, I understand that this isn’t for everyone; you might need to develop an acquired taste to enjoy this.
  • Make a soup out of it – Have you heard of “Sinigang na Sardinas”? Yes, it is a sour soup dish similar to that of our “Sinigang na ulo ng salmon”; the only difference is that it uses canned sardines instead of fresh fish. This might be a bizarre idea that seriously needs an acquired taste – but my take on this is simple: anything new can be considered bizarre, you need to try and get used to it to be able to develop a sense of appreciation. Check out the video on 10 Peso Meals with Chef Edward Bugia.

What do you think ? Do you have other suggestions to add? Please feel free to post a comment


  1. jannet says

    wow, i think i will try this out one time. i love canned sardines and my mom thought me to add noodles or vegis to it. i might surprise her if i show her how to make sinigang with it. it’s a vey interesting post.

    • says

      * These are very good variations of dishing out sardines!

      * What I usually do is chop 2 cloves of garlic into really small small tiny pieces. A half slice of onions too!

      Then I heat my pan and add a tablespoon or two of olive oil. When hot, I saute the garlic ( I make sure it browns a bit) then the onions.

      I pour the can of sardines with all its saucy goodness, then swoosh everything around. I also cut the little lovlie fishies into smaller parts with my ladle as I continue to cook everything.

      Then I add a dash or two of tabasco sauce, pour in a plate, top it with slices of green picante chillies and….that’s it!

      All done in less than 3 minutes.

  2. says

    This is one of my fave to eat. I usually just eat it from the can, but I heat it of course. Then I usually cover my rice with it then I add the fried eggs on top. LOL!

    • says

      Theres another way of enjoying a canned sardines and I called “burgered sardines ala Pobre”. Its easy to prepare.
      First you separate the tomato sauce from the fish. Saute a few minced garlic and set it aside. Mix an egg, sliced onions and the fish (you might want it cut into small size) then fry these on low heat so you dont burn the back side.
      when done pour the tomato sauce on top and sprinkle the fried garlic on it.

      My kids love this dish and it wont cost much to prepare.

      • says

        Hi Maclobell,
        I’ve made it like that before. Thank you though. It’s all good, no matter how you prepare it. LOL! I love it with bihon as well.

    • Jeremy says

      Can they be eaten directly from the can?, what did you mean by “heal” them

      anyone help me out, new to canned sardines, can they be eaten directly from the can?

      • says

        Hi Jeremy,
        I think you mean “HEAT” not HEAL. I HEAT them up. Yes, you can just eat it directly from the can. Sometimes I get to lazy and I use the microwave to heat them.

  3. glynnesmarie says

    i love sardines… :)
    my favorite is to mash the sardines, saute’ it with onions and garlic then add one egg.. best served with rice.yum! :)

  4. ross ann says

    i like to try this recipe, can you tell me what kind of canned mackerel sardines he used. is it in natural oil or in water. thank you so much for giving me an idea how to cook sinigang sardines.

  5. ddfdf says

    I grew up as a kid on the sugar sugar sugar fat sugar sugar fat lab created American diet.

    I now mimic Japan mostly. Ton’s of veggies and fish vs meat. I drink whole unsweetened fruit juices (cranberry,grapefruit,etc..) or several types of tea’s (rooibos,ginseng,green, reishi,etc..)

    The most important thing is keeping to variety. Raw (usually canned) fish is so much healthier and cost effective than steaks and burgers.

    It also requires a giant mental leap (or discipline to not look at your food) and culinary trial and error.

    For canned sardines,tuna, and any other sea life you want to enjoy (I even got a taste for octopus now) I advise buying the cheapest stuff you can in bulk and adding some cayenne powder or minced fresh peppers if $ isn’t a thing to it. If you get used to cayenne powder it OVERRIDES any flavor and texture issues you may have. I swear it is a magic powder that you can dose on anything and poof palettable.

    They also sell little sealed packed of salted sea weed which without any modifications taste better to me than any potato chip and you use more calories eating it than you take in and it is 100% nutrition so a hell of a good choice for the fatties.

  6. Lukifer Aurelius says

    WOW, thank you so very much Panlasang.

    i have been wanting to eat more ethical sources of fish for a while, sardines being pretty prolific are up there. But the taste of canned sardines has always turned me off. i can only just bare to stomach the ones straight out of the can.

    i just cooked some canned sardines exactly as you outlined to on here and they were beautiful! so i have to thank you, i can now eat sardines and enjoy them very much!

    cheers again.


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