Featured Product: Canned Sardines Recipes
Would it really come as a surprise that canned sardines are the most consumed food product in the Philippines? Filipinos are carnivorous people whose archipelagic country is blessed to be surrounded by deep blue waters from which 12 percent of the global fish catch comes. According to Oceana, the seas to the south of the Philippines are teeming with sardines that provided 380,000 tons total landings in 2015. Sardines frequently reproduce and grow quickly to sustain an abundant population, considering that they are forage species to many marine species too. Sardines also belong to a family of epipelagic fish, which means that countries with less advanced fishing technology can continually harvest and feed the demand for a cheap source of protein.
Sardines are the most essential food source for millions of Filipinos. For less than 200 PHP or 4 USD, Filipinos can already buy a kilo of fresh sardines to feed the family for days. Smoked sardines cost less than a dollar apiece and fit the daily meal budget of most Filipinos who live on the minimum wage. Aside from being cheap, the small fish species are densely packed with nutrients that ensure a well-oiled nervous system, strong bones, and a healthy heart. They contain a significant amount of D and B vitamins that efficiently deliver energy and keep you in a good mood. Sardines are a huge part of a Filipino regular diet. Let’s just say this is partly why we are resilient and the third happiest bunch of people in the world.
The largest share of the demand for sardines comes in processed bottles or canned products that are readily accessible in sari-sari stores or sundry stores that can be found in every neighborhood in the Philippines. At least a dozen brands are available in the market. They all guarantee the freshness of their sardines throughout the 12-hour catching-to-canning process. The most common preparation for canned sardines contains rich tomato sauce, given the Filipino preference for sour and savory food. But not all sardines in tomato sauce are created equal. Depending on the brand, some tomato sauces are saltier, and others lean towards the tarty side. Some brands are known for their hearty sauce, and others are less preferred because of their watery consistency. Almost all brands offer their sardines at the same price but certainly do not give the same number of pieces.
However, even when poured on top of rice, sardines won’t fill you out and keep you satiated for hours. Filipinos know this very well, so they learned to toss in some budget-friendly ingredients and create recipes that are a world different from the lowly sardines straight out of the can. The COVID-19 lockdowns worldwide, coupled with the current economic and financial situations, have forced us to get creative with the limited resources we have at home. With some culinary imagination, you’ll be surprised how versatile sardines actually are. You can easily make nutritious sardines-based dishes with the help of few ingredients you can pull out of the pantry cabinet.
SARDINES WITH SOTANGHON
Instead of shreds of chicken meat, sardines are a delicious alternative when you want a quick and easy noodle soup to warm your stomach. You can use any Filipino brand of sardines in tomato sauce. Add some spices and scallions or toasted garlic bits for garnish. (Photo from momfoodblog.com)