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All About Portugal | February 26, 2021

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Sardines, Portuguese summer dish

Clara Campos

Grilled sardines is the favourite summer dish of the Portuguese and we eat them on a slice of bread with our fingers enjoying the fish grease.

If codfish is the king of the Portuguese gastronomy then the sardine is the queen, especially during the month of June when it reign the Popular Saints Festivities, whether it is St. Antony, St. John or St. Peter celebrations. Throughout summer – the sardines season – the smell of sardines being grilled on charcoal takes over the streets of Portuguese most typical districts and may taste them in almost every Portuguese restaurant, regardless the category.

Even though sardines are served in many other countries, such as Spain, France, Brazil or Morocco, there is no other place like Portugal to eat sardines. We even have our own special way to eat grilled sardines, a way that does not require plates, knives or forks. If you are willing to taste a sardine like a true Portuguese, just put one on a slice of bread and eat it with your fingers while the fat of the fish drips into the bread. My little secret for adding an extra flavour to a grilled sardine on a slice of bread is to drizzle it with a dash of olive oil. The taste truly compensates the greasy fingers!

Sardines are great for your health

Besides being a delicious fish, sardines are beneficial to your health, in particularly to your heart. They are rich in several nutrients that help to protect your cardiovascular system, namely the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA that help to lower triglycerides and cholesterol levels and vitamin B12 that protect artery walls. Sardines are also rich in vitamin D and phosphorus, both essential to promote bone health. Offering a high level of protein, sardines are a good source of amino acids fundamental to produce antibodies that strengthen the immune system and transport the proteins, which deliver oxygen and all the nutrients throughout our body.

Abroad canned sardines are very popular. However, if you have the chance to cook fresh sardines, don’t hesitate. It is easy to select them, you just have to make sure that they smell fresh, have bright eyes, shiny skin and are firm to the touch. If you have no ideas on how to cook them, take a look at my suggestion. I specially recommend the Portuguese grilled sardines’ recipe.

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