Sardines, in all the ways

Alyssa Arizabal, Bea Cupin

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Sardines, in all the ways
If the recipes themselves don’t entice you, we’re sure the illustrations will

MANILA, Philippines – After close to 3 weeks at home and in isolation, we can’t really blame you if your menu turns monotonous and repetitive. We see you – it can be difficult to innovate and diversify your meals when you’d rather avoid leaving the house as grocery lines are always long, and home time still means work time for many.

In the past weeks, however, an oft-neglected pantry staple has, for better or worse, become the star of many kitchens. Make way, ladies and gentlemen, for the canned sardine.

As boring and as petsa-de-peligro as sardines may seem, they’re actually quite useful – both as the star and supporting character – in means that are anything but boring.

We scoured the expanses of the Rappler staff to collate sardine recipes, from the simplest to the most fancy. If the recipes themselves don’t entice you, we’re sure our artist Alyssa Arizabal’s illustrations will at least put a smile on your face and breathe new life into our humble pantry hero.

No fuss

Straight and simple

Open can, pour over hot rice. You’re welcome. (Sosyal version: Top with a spoonful of pesto, add a fried egg)


Just a pinch of extra

Calamansi, toyo, sibuyas make things better

Open can, squeeze calamansi juice (include the seeds if you want to live on the edge), add a splash of soy sauce, and add as many chopped onions as you want. Serve with rice, crackers, or bread (pan de sal!), or eat it in its own glory.


No puns here – misua is the bomb

Misua like crazy

Saute garlic and onions, add sardines (with, without, or with just some sauce – it depends on you) and let simmer, add peeled patola (optional), add misua and water, season as needed (patis, salt, pepper), garnish with with onion chives if you’re feeling fancy.


Omelette du sardinas

Here’s where you can go crazy – you can saute the sardines with whatever you want (Garlic? Onions? Tomatoes? The options are endless) and either mash it in with seasoned and beaten eggs or use mashed or whole sardines as the filling of your omelette. Truly, the options are as endless as the flavors in this one. 


As fancy or as simple as you want  

Sardine pasta

A no-frills solution would be to saute onions, garlic, and tomatoes, add sardines, season as necessary, and add cooked pasta (add a slash of pasta water to make the sauce cling to your pasta better).

Here’s my maarte take, which is derived from Alison Roman’s shallot and anchovy pasta sauce: brown a LOT of onions (like 6 onion bulbs – I’m not kidding), add garlic once the onions are soft and have caramelized, toss in a teaspoon of capers, add in chopped olives, add as many or as little deboned sardines as you want, add tomato paste and let the flavors mingle, season to taste. Add pasta. Top with parsley chopped with garlic and salt or grated parmesan or pecorino – because you’ve always put in so much effort, so why not?


Sardine canton

Prepare instant pansit canton according to package instructions. Serve with sardines. Is there too much sodium? Yes. Do we mind? Not really. Just don’t eat this every day.


Langka love

Boil the langka and wash after it softens; drain, put in a casserole dish, add in onions, garlic tomatoes, and sardines. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add water and let boil. Once water has evaporated, add gata then boil, reduce to taste.


Feeling fancy?

Sardines and pandesal hors d’oeuvres

Slice pandesal crosswise and toast in the oven, the oven toaster, or in a pan. Add sardines on top. Put cheese on top – use a soft or hard cheese, we won’t judge. You can also top with olives or diced green and red peppers.


Feeling even fancier?

Sardine dip

Crush sardines – that’s it. Use as a dip for crackers or toasted bread. Add capers if you’re feeling fancy.


Sardines stir-fry

Use sardines as your protein to any stir fry! No instructions here. It’s a stir fry!


Sardines with ampalaya (and tofu)

Slice the bitter gourd into thin (about 5 mm) slices, soak in mixture of water and 1/2 cup of salt for 30 minutes, drain (this is important if you don’t want your ampalaya to be too bitter). Sauté garlic and onion, add the sardines, then the bitter gourd last. You can add the ampalaya first if you prefer them to be just a little softer and mushier; adding them in last helps it retain its crispness – which our news editor prefers. Want more protein? Add cubes of fried tofu.


This is a joke – make sure it stays that way   

Sardine ala mode

We’re kidding. That’s gross.


Spice up your sardines recipe and get your grocery needs using these Lazada discounts! 

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.