In the United States, sardines are most commonly found salted, smoked, or canned, either in oil, tomato sauce, or mustard sauce, or pickled. Throughout Central Africa, canned sardines are frequently cooked in stews.
The natural sweetness of fresh sardines pairs well with sharply flavored ingredients such as mustard or bitter greens. Canned sardines are good in sauces and salads. They can also be mashed and served on crackers or as a sandwich filling.
Sardines are delicious baked, sauteed, grilled, or in a sauce.
Place fresh fish in a baking dish. Drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and lemon juice, or top with the sauce of your choice and bake at 425F (218C) for 10 minutes or until cooked through.
Rinse fish and blot dry. Lightly coat them with seasoned cornstarch or flour. Heat a small amount of oil in a large nonstick skillet, or spray the skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Saute each side for 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Use a flexible spatula to turn the fish--be sure to turn them gently as they are fragile. Serve with a lemon wedge.
Grilling or Broiling
Rich and fatty, sardines are delicious hot off the grill. Toss the sardines in a dry rub of your favorite herbs and a little salt. Either place them on a lightly oiled grill topper or in a special basket designed for grilling small fish. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes over medium heat until done, turning the fish once. Serve with lemon or a fresh tomato salsa.
Sardines are also an essential ingredient in a special pasta sauce that is served to celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph.