When I first went to Europe, I was shocked to see people eating sardines directly from the can, or spreading it on a piece of bread! As an Indonesian, I couldn’t fathom it as I always thought that canned sardines were ‘uncooked.’ And to eat it with bread? Totally unacceptable!
I started telling people that’s not how we eat sardines in Indonesia. I showed them how to cook and serve sardines with rice ‘properly.’ This time, the tables were turned and my European friends were shocked! They thought sardines shouldn’t be cooked and eaten with rice. They exclaimed, “That’s totally weird!” My friends and I both experienced culture shock over canned sardines!
It took awhile for me to accept the differences, but I slowly learned how to appreciate ‘uncooked’ canned sardines over a piece of bread. I even grew to enjoy it very much (especially with a glass of cold beer), and I even went further by sprinkling chopped raw onions on top of my sardine. My friends, in contrast, are now addicted to cooked sardines served with white rice.
Canned sardines are quite handy. They keep for a long time, and can be very practical in times of pandemics such as the current coronavirus, when fresh produce is scarce and people are quarantined at home. It’s delicious, easy to cook and provides a good source of protein. Rice can be stored for a long time as well, so you don’t need to go to the store often, thus reducing the risk of getting and spreading the virus to you and your loved ones.Print
Cooked with chillies, garlic, shallots and tomatoes, tumis sardines elevates regular canned sardines in tomato sauce and gives it an Indonesian flavour. A quick and tasty dish, especially when fresh fish isn’t available.
- 1 can of sardines in tomato sauce (around 425 gr)
- 3 cloves garlic peeled, thinly sliced
- 3 small shallots (can be substituted with a small red onion), peeled, thinly sliced
- 1 small tomato, sliced in wedges
- 0.25 tsp white ground pepper
- 1 big red chilli (optional), sliced
- 4 whole bird’s eyes chillies (optional)
- A pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- In a wok, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.
- Sautee the sliced garlic, shallots, big red chilli and tomato until fragrant, around 4 minutes.
- Put in the canned sardines, add white pepper, salt and the whole bird’s eye chillies. Gently stir to mix all the ingredients, being careful not to break the fish.
- Continue to simmer until the sauce thickens, around 10 minutes.
- When done, transfer the sardines to a serving plate.
- This dish goes well with pasta as well, especially noodle-shaped types such as spaghetti, angel hair or fettuccini.
Keywords: Quick & Easy, Fish, Seafood, Sardines