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June 01, 2011

June Fish of the Month: U.S. Pacific Sardines

June’s Fish of the Month is U.S. Pacific sardines.

There is no denying it, sardines have quite the reputation.  While kids and adults might scrunch their noses at the thought of sardines, our Right Bite team thinks this small, delicious fish has been widely misunderstood!

As demand for seafood increases, and 80% of global seafood populations are at unsustainable levels, we need viable alternatives in seafood. Not only are sardines tasty and packed with healthy nutrients, they are rated a “best choice” for their ecological benefits.

Are you still scrunching your nose? Read our “Top 5 Reasons to Become a Sardine Fan” and invite friends and family to try our budget-friendly Sardine Crostini at your next outdoor soirée.

1. Sardines are good for you - The USDA released new guidelines that advise Americans to eat seafood two to three times per week. Sardines exceed the daily minimum for omega-3s, which helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and increase brain function.

2. Sardines are good for the planet – Pacific Sardines come from healthy, abundant populations. Every year, the Pacific Fishery Management Council sets a total catch limit for sardines based on scientific assessments.  Even more, sardines are inherently less vulnerable to overfishing because they reach reproductive maturity quickly and have numerous offspring.  Some sardines can even spawn up to 40 times per year!

3. Sardines are low in contaminants - Sardines eat a tiny floating plant called plankton and are a favored snack of marine mammals, fish and seabirds. Choosing seafood, like sardines, from the bottom of the marine food chain means less bioaccumulation or absorption of toxins like mercury and PCBs.

4. Sardines are convenient & budget-friendly - Canned sardines are a quick seafood option for those with busy schedules.  Simple & easy to prepare, canned sardines have a long shelf life. Fresh sardines are often preferred for their flavor, but they can perish quickly. We especially like Wild Planet Foods’ canned Wild California Sardines in spring water, available at your local Whole Foods Market.

5. Sardines are delicious & versatile - This month’s recipe shows one of the numerous ways sardines can be prepared. If you like the Sardine Crostini, add sardines as a salad garnish, pasta topping or grill them fresh.

Sardine Crostini
Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 can Pacific sardines
5 oz. chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tsp. sesame seeds
1 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lemon, seeds removed & juiced
Hot chili sauce, to taste (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2-3 tbsp. of olive oil
15-20 baguette slices, sliced on diagonal angle & toasted
Radish, mango, melon or cucumbers, thinly sliced
For Garnish: Fresh herb leaves (ex: basil, dill, or cilantro)

Directions:

1.  Blend sardines, chickpeas, sesame, parsley, garlic, lemon, hot sauce and salt in blender or food processor.

2.  Slowly pour in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil while blending, continue until smooth.

3.  Plate baguette slices and get creative! Lay radish, mango, melon or cucumber slice on top and spoon on 1-2 teaspoons of sardine mix.

4.  Garnish with desired herbs and serve as an appetizer.

Posted by Brooke Havlik, conservation

Fish of the Month is sponsored by:
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