Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Soft-Bone Sardine Stew

Blog's Category: International, USSR-era Recipes, My Staple Food

Soft-Bone Sardine Stew

Yes! It is THAT recipe I have good memories about. I was browsing through my old cook books and come across the recipe of sardines that I cooked many years ago. I remember how good they were and for years, on and off, I, unsuccessfully, was trying to recreate those melting-in-your mouth sardines. Here it is, here is this recipe from "Jewish-Style Cooking" cookbook (in Russian). And here are those sardines - pretty, gold-colored, flavorful, with undetectable bones and non-existing anymore fishy taste which always was deterring me from this full of health benefits fish.

- I would recommend to stick to this recipe word-to-word as none of my previous attempts to cook sardines in even slightly different fashion was as good as this particular recipe.

Although I'm not done experimenting with sardines... and want to try something similar but based on  tomato sauce. I'll let you know if something good will come out of this.

Taste Description
First of all - there is NO bones and NO fishy aftertaste. Of course, bones are still there but after long cooking process they become very soft to the point of non-existence. Sardines itself are very "meaty" and soaked with their own flavors mixed with sweetness of onion-carrot base. Sauce is delicious, onion and carrots has the same unified, softly spiced taste and great aroma.

How to Serve

I like it cold or at room temperature, served as an appetizer or dish on its own, with a nice crusty piece of country bread.  Also it can be served warm, over pile of rice or any kind of pasta.
Store in a glass container in a fridge for 4-5 days.

Soft-Bone Sardine Stew

For about 20 sardines:
  • 2 large onions, peeled and sliced (skins saved)
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp red peppercorns ("very" optional)
  • 1-1.5 cups olive oil
  • 2-4 cups of water

- Clean your sardines: cut off heads, remove guts and wash off scales (sardine scales are very easily removable simply with the tips of your fingers). Leave a beautiful shiny sardine skin on.

- In a bottom of a large skillet with lid (or dutch oven), place half of the onions and carrots. On a top, pack tightly all of your sardines in one layer. Generously sprinkle with a salt and ground pepper. Distribute remaining onions and carrots on a top of fish. Throw bay leaves, red peppercorn and pile up your onion skins on a top of everything.

- Pour olive oil and water over, bring to a boil on a high heat. As it starts to boil, turn heat to the lowest setting, cover tightly and simmer for 6-7 hours (yes, this long :)). Take a look couple times to make sure it is boiling in a "barely alive" manner. Other than this, it does not require your attention at all.

- When it is done, let it cool down a little bit, remove and discard onion skins, with a flat tong transfer sardines in a glass container and store in a fridge for your everyday enjoyment, it should keep at least for 4-5 days. I hope you enjoy it!


Here it is, this lovely cook book "Jewish-Style Cooking" where I re-discovered my favorite sardine recipe. Too bad there is no pictures in this book whatsoever...:(

Save the onion skins. They will give lovely golden color and additional aroma to sardines.

It's fun to clean sardines - easy and pretty.

Pack in a pot or deep skillet in a head-to-tail, back side up fashion. Again, pre-e-e-tty!

I wish red peppercorn would give away more its lovely aroma... So red peppercorn is totally "omittable" here.

It seems to be a lot of olive oil but do not me

water and oil should cover sardines (barely covering onion layer)

It is launched for a long 7-hour run.

In a couple of hours I pat onion skins down, just a little bit.

It is done! Quick test - oh, deliciousness!

Discard onion skins..

All the best edible part is left.


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  2. Thanks a lot, will use pressure cooker, to reduce the time!

  3. i will try this. i can't even wait..
    sure, i will share with friends. Sherifat.


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