Homemade Sardines

Why homemade sardines?

The mere mention of sardines immediately brings to mind canned fish in tomato sauce, well, at least from where I grew up. However, homemade sardines, or even the thought of it, elicits a different kind of excitement. Initially, you are guaranteed freshness; secondly, it comes straight from your kitchen – than the grocery shelves.

Connotation for sardines

At times, the word “sardines” is used to describe cramped spaces, as in public transportation or a queue for something mundane but urgent.  It gives you a picture of some sweat glands in action.  Pleased taste buds, however, have a stronger will to kill ugly imagination, by simply closing your eyes and shifting your thoughts to how such food can make you salivate in seconds.

Benefits of eating sardines

Sardines are not unhealthy, as some might have a tendency to believe.  They have Omega-3 fatty acids that can help prevent heart disease, Vitamin B-12, calcium and other minerals.  At times, it is part of a healthy diet for weight loss as it can help curb appetite.  There are several recipes that call for sardines, including pasta and vegetable dishes.

Sardines are best with rice, bread or salad

Sardines, for me, is nostalgic.  It brings a lot of memories from back home, made dreamy by the fact that Saudi Arabia is not a place where this product is attractive.  Although sardines are found in the local market here, they are normally for expats, and in my observation, Filipinos.  We love sardines with steamy white rice, fried rice, hot pandesal, or bread rolls. It is also best as a salad accompaniment or salad ingredient.

Homemade sardines – a better option

Canned sardines of different brands fill my pantry.  They are quick to prepare – huh, of course, because all I needed is a can opener, juice of half a lemon, 3 pieces of small red chilis and a tablespoon of fish sauce. The first time I considered making homemade sardines was some 30 years ago. There was a short feature in the local news back home that my favorite sardine brand was being produced in a filthy environment!  First the feeling of awe followed by sadness for having to give up one of my super-fast-to prepare food.

Making homemade sardines

So, I experimented on making my own sardines.  Well, sardines would not be fast to prepare this way, but hey, love for cooking!  Like many other experiments, my first attempt was not a success; there was a funny burned taste in it. I adjusted my cooking temperature.  Second attempt had too much taste of laurel (bay leaves), and the third kind of missed the heat of chili (which, of course, is optional).

Adding green olives to homemade sardines

I added green olives in my next sardine adventure.  Yes, I did some reading, snooping other recipes, comparison and all, and featured here is what I call my homemade sardines – from the many failed attempts to addition of spices and ingredients – this is now perfect! Worth sharing with you.

You will love it, I am sure!


Magida's Homemade Sardines

Homemade sardines from fresh fish and ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Author Magida


  • Ingredients
  • 1 kilo sardine fish or mackerel
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small head garlic sliced
  • 1 small carrot cut into florets
  • 3 pieces bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • Whole red chilis - fresh or dried - to taste optional
  • About 8 pcs green olives
  • 1 cups water at least
  • 2 tbsp juice of lemon
  • 2 tbsp salt


  1. Cut off the heads of fish, trim fins and tails then discard. Clean fish of its innards. Drain or dry using paper towels.
  2. Arrange half the fish in a pot. Cover with garlic slices, carrots, peppercorns, chili (if using), salt and green olives. Repeat the order.
  3. Sprinkle with lemon juice and add water.
  4. Cover and let boil over medium heat then lower the heat and leave for 45 minutes or until the sauce reaches a good consistency - not watery.
  5. Serve hot or cold.

Recipe Notes

Good with bread, nice with plain steamed rice, and a wonderful with garlic fried rice. Burp!

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