Preserved Sardines/Sardinha de Conserva
Sardines are a big deal in Portugal. Together with bacalhau (salted cod), the sardine has become a symbol of Portuguese food and culture recognised around the world. A visitor to Portugal will not need to search much to see sardines on a menu, printed on t-shirts, made out porcelain, on designer goods etc…
This remarkably healthy atlantic fish (clupea pichardus) has a long history in Portuguese gastronomy. During roman occupation, sardines was salted and transported in amphora all over the Roman empire. In the 14th Century, during the reign of D. João I, Mestre de Avis, the fishing of sardines was protected by royal decree. In the beginning of the 19th Century, techniques for conserving sardines in tins were developed and the first factories preserving sardines in olive oil was established. By 1938 Portugal was producing 40 thousand tons of canned sardines!
This versatile and convenient ingredient is no replacement for fresh grilled sardines but has its own unique place on the Portuguese plate and keeps your sardine intake going throughout the winter. Tomato sauce, escabeche, or simply olive oil are the most common sauces used to preserve the fish. Use them in salads, on toast or simply pick straight of the can for a nutritious and healthy snack!