I hated sardines. Ok let me say that again, I abhorred sardines. Sardines were one of my hatest breakfast viands ever in the history of mankind. And unfortunately, it was one of the favorite Filipino breakfast staples of all time. It was filling: most certainly when eaten with a heaping mountain of steamed white rice. It almost dirt cheap because it costs around USD 0.25 a can in Manila. Because it is that dirt cheap, it used to be the poor man’s meal. I say used to be because instant noodles are cheaper now. Half the price of a can of sardines! But hey, I digress. Let me get back to those horrid sardines…
Once my mother set a bowl of sardines on the breakfast table, my still sleepy morning face wakes up and suddenly turns sour. I push my plate away and say: “I’m not hungry.” Every single time that darned fish appears. Even if my stomach is already tumbling like mad with hunger, I’d say otherwise because I just didn’t like it. I was quite a food brat then. Then my father would always quip: “Kung may giyera, ikaw ang unang mamamatay.” (If we were at war, you’d be the first to die of hunger.) as he dives into his sardine and rice plate with gusto.
I stared at the sardine fillets, scales-on and swimming in an eerie red tomato sauce. I think I saw some tiny bones poking out. Eeek. Then I think of war and my eventual demise. Shaking my head, I thought “Maybe I’d rather die…”
Or not. Hindi na ako ang unang mamamatay sa giyera (I won’t be the first to die at wartime.). Not this time.
I guess somehow when you grow more mature (Note I did not say older. Okay, I think I just did.), your palate matures with you too. Because, eventually I learned to appreciate that humble can of sardines fairly recently. Only last year! Although, I must admit that I still can’t go near those sardines in tomato sauce. So perhaps I’d still be one of the first to die at wartime? Ack.
But though I still do not eat all kinds of sardines (I still can’t eat sardines in tomato sauce), I am proud to say that I’ve even developed an original sardine recipe because of this fresh infatuation for the fish. It already is part of 30 of my favorite foodstuff. Here it is, my magnum opus inspired by that humble can of sardines.
What you need:
- 500 grams of spaghetti noodles, cooked al dente por favor
- 3 cans / 2 bottles of spicy spanish style sardines. Pickles, carrots and peppercorns in oil removed. But save the oil for use in the sauce. Sardines deboned (optional). NOTE: Our family prefers the Family Brand since, among the more affordable spicy sardine brands, this is the spiciest and the most flavorful. But the Zaragoza brand is quite good as well.
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 Head of red onion, chopped
- 5 tomatoes, chopped
- 1 stalk of celery, minced
- 4 salted eggs, chopped
- 2 medium sized green mangoes, cheeks julienned.
- Around 5 tablespoons of olive oil. Amount of oil may be adjusted based on personal preference.
- Heat pan with oil from the spicy spanish sardines together with olive oil.
- Saute minced garlic, chopped red onions and tomatoes.
- When the ginisa mix has been cooked thoroughly, add in the spicy sardine fillets then mix altogether.
- Add minced celery and half of the chopped salted eggs.
- Let the spicy sardine mixture simmer for 5 minutes then turn off the heat.
- Throw in the al dente spaghetti into the spicy sardine mixture then toss.
- Transfer into a bowl / serving plate, then top with the remaining salted eggs and julienned green mango.
Make sure you get all key ingredients: sardines, salted eggs and green mangoes, in every forkful to enjoy. Would be glad to know how you like it (or not) so I can still improve the recipe 🙂
I actually shared this dish with my Fooderati Arabia family in a potluck yesterday. Not exactly an authentic Filipino dish as I would’ve wanted to bring. Please do forgive my inexperienced cooking skills, especially in the Filipino cuisine department. But I hope that the pasta showcased some of the flavors we Filipinos enjoy. Do you enjoy spanish sardines, salted eggs and mangoes as much as I do?
Delirious about delicious,