Wikipedia, which, by the way, should only be spelled with one k lest the researcher think that something has happened to the famous on-line encyclopedia site, is disappointingly quiet on the subject of sardines. They are pilchards, Wikipedia informs us, and the sardine canning industry in the U.S. peaked about 1950. The last large sardine cannery in the country, in Prospect Harbor, Maine, closed last year. They are named for the island of Sardinia
In any case, sardines, which used to be popular in the U.S. as a cheap sandwich filling, are no longer popular. I, who have reached the advanced age of 60, had never eaten a sardine until I decided to bite the bullet and make the two sardine recipes in the Northeast section of the NYTHCB.
First of all I was surprised at how large they were. I expected them to be about the size of anchovies. They are actually about the size of an adult's index finger in diameter, at least at their midsections, if sardines can be said to have midsections. They taper down to about the diameter of a child's index finger at their tail ends.
Second of all, I was surprised at what a tasty dish Marinated Maine Sardines turned out to be. My husband observed that the taste was similar to marinated herring, and it was. This is a lovely hot weather dish. You MUST make it ahead of time to give the flavors a chance to blend. For once, the Berkshire Farmer followed directions and made the dish 24 hours in advance. The sardines on a bed of lettuce make a great main course salad, or an appetizer.
Marinated Maine Sardines
3 three-and-three-quarter-ounces to four-ounce cans sardines
3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup light cream
1/4 cup tarragon vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 clove garlic crushed
1/2 teaspoon horseradish
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup onion thinly sliced, separated into rings
1 cup thinly sliced peeled cucumber
Boston lettuce cups
1. Day before, drain the sardines and arrange in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Combine the sour cream, light cream, vinegar, lemon juice, wine, garlic, horseradish and salt.
2. Mix together cream mixture, the onion and cucumber and spread over sardines.
Chill overnight. Next day, arrange in lettuce cups. Makes six servings.