Fishy delights

SARDINES have been packed into tiny tins for more than 100 years, but Fremantle Sardines in a tin are a whole new, ahem, kettle of fish. Local family-run seafood company Mendolia recently launched a canned version of their famous sardines, so Herald foodies JENNY D’ANGER and MATTHEW EELES ditched the fancy restaurants to give us their take on the under-appreciated pilchard.

D’ANGEROUS Dave’s eyes lit up as he tucked into a can of Fremantle Sardines.

The pepper berry leaf-infused fish was a sophisticated delight, and he was salivating at the idea of having the native myrtle leaf version for lunch the next day.

The sardines don’t have the off-putting aroma of other varieties, and are juicy, moist, firm and flavoursome, he said.

Frying up onions and garlic, and gently poaching the little fish in a good quality tomato sauce, we had them with rice a couple of nights later.

It was a delicious, cheap and easy meal, and Fremantle sardines are now a staple in our house and on camping trips.

Sardines were considered bait fish by locals, until Jim Mendolia kicked off the Fremantle Sardine Festival, and before you could say fish they were on the menus of top restaurants across Australia.

A victim of its own success, the festival outgrew its humble origins and became a logistical nightmare, grounding to a halt after 11 years.

But Mendolia continue to supply fresh and processed sardines across Australia and recently launched a canned version. JD

I WANTED to get the most out of my Freo sardines, so I mushed the fatty fish fillets into my favourite cocktail–The Bloody Mary.

Without any precise measurements I threw in a handful of diced cherry tomatoes, a splash of worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, quality hot sauce, a good pinch of celery salt, pepper and a generous glug of Absolut vodka.

This medley is so electric, I’m surprised the sardines weren’t jolted back to life.

I served the mixture on toasted ciabatta, which I rubbed down with a raw garlic clove and garnished with finely grated lemon rind. Devine.

For my main meal I heated the sardine oil over a medium heat and added chopped garlic, sliced chilli and halved cherry tomatoes.

I then dropped in whole sardines and gently broke them up with my wooden spoon, before adding some al dente spaghetti. I recommend a splash of pasta water to diffuse the strong sardine flavour.

As a finishing touch, I added a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some “peasant parmesan”, aka fried ciabatta bread crumbs. ME

By Jenny D’Anger and Matthew Eeles

Fremantle Sardines Sealanes, Kakulas Sister and Peaches.
At about $6 they’re pricier than other brands, but the difference is chalk and cheese.

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