Tumis Sardines: Sauteed Canned Sardines

Cooked with chillies, garlic, shallots and tomatoes, tumis sardines elevates regular canned sardines in tomato sauce and gives it an Indonesian flavour.

Must Try

- Advertisement -Tasty Food Photography
Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk Sri Rahayu
Nunuk hails from Solo, the historic royal capital and cultural centre of Java, Indonesia. She has been cooking since the age of 12, and also performs and teaches traditional Javanese dance. Her dream is to eventually write her own Indonesian cookbook.

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.

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Tumis Sardines: Sauteed Canned Sardines

Tumis Sardines: Sauteed Canned Sardines

  • Author: Nunuk Sri Rahayu
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Fish & Seafood
  • Method: Saute
  • Cuisine: Indonesian
  • Diet: Halal


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

    Tumis Sardines ingredients


  1. In a wok, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.
  2. Sautee the sliced garlic, shallots, big red chilli and tomato until fragrant, around 4 minutes.

    Tumis Sardines saute

  3. 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.
  4. Continue to simmer until the sauce thickens, around 10 minutes.

    Tumis Sardines simmer

  5. 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

- Advertisement -Tasty Food Photography


  1. I enjoyed cooking this recipe. It was quick and easy. I served it as a main dish together with white basmati rice. But I will definitely keep this recipe also for occasional unexpected guests as a side dish. It will “boost up” my menu with an easy and cheap fish dish in a fraction of time. Thumbs up!

    • Thank you Michael for your thoughtful review. This dish is indeed amazing – cheap and common ingredients, but the end result is much greater than the sum of its parts!


Recipe rating
Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Latest Recipes

Popular tags