As we were growing up my dad would consume foods that, through the eyes of five Icee Pop loving girls under the age of 14, were particularly revolting. Things like horseradish by the teaspoon, Pepper Pot soup from a can, anchovies, sardines, brown mustard, and liver (the story went – “I was flat broke during college, so quite frequently I’d cook up some liver n’ onions. Cheap and delicious!” Cue exaggerated retches from the mouths of five Sunchip loving girls under the age of 14). These days, though the Pepper Pot soup in the cabinet remains untouched by all except our bald-pated patriarch, we’ve all expanded our tastes to embrace some previously taboo foodstuffs.
I now love mustards of all kinds, and horseradish is tops. But the pungent little tinned fishes in my pantry weren’t in heavy rotation until my mom introduced me to The Longevity Kitchen cookbook. Among other culinary treats, it has a slam-dunk recipe using sardines in quite the approachable manner, especially if you’re a fan of bright herbs and lemon. I probably wouldn’t have made it if I hadn’t tried it first in mom’s kitchen, even though the cookbook prefaces the recipe with “some culinary wizardry will be required to turn sardine skeptics into wild-eyed fans.” So if you’re trying to get over the sardine hump, please let this be your guide. The recipe from the cookbook (by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson) is reprinted below, but note that you could include a tablespoon or two of chopped cilantro (as I did) if you sway that way.
Good Mood Sardines (recipe from The Longevity Kitchen by Mat Edelson and Rebecca Katz, which also contains a multitude of other tasty and healthy recipes to offset your bread pudding with hard sauce addition. Wait, I mean, my bread pudding with hard sauce addiction).
4 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp. finely diced red onion
2 tsp. each finely chopped fresh parsley, basil, and mint
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
⅛ tsp. sea salt
1 (4.35-ounce) can sardines, packed in water or olive oil
Put the lemon juice, lemon zest, red onion, parsley, basil, mint, olive oil, mustard, and salt in a bowl, and stir to combine. Add the sardines and flake them into chunky pieces with a fork. Stir gently to combine. Taste; you may want to add a pinch of salt or a generous squeeze of lemon juice.
Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.