We have heard a lot lately about seafood sustainability. One of the best ways to promote healthy oceans is to eat lower on the seafood chain. Less tuna, more tiny fishies. Sardines are a delicious way to do just that. Mild and meaty, they are also an economical and convenient choice: no special trip to a trusted seafood market, just grab a few cans off the shelf from your regular grocery store. Best of all, this Southeast Asian inspired Sardine Salad is ready in only 15 minutes! Perfect for those really steamy days when you can’t face a hot kitchen.
Sardines For Health
Eating sardines isn’t just better for the oceans, it’s also a super healthy addition to your diet. They boast some of the highest amounts of heart healthy Omega-3’s, and they are a calcium powerhouse too. Because sardines largely eat plankton, they also have the least amount of mercury.
I admit, I was not a canned sardine fan. My daughters and husband eat it straight out of a can. But there was something unappealing about it to me. Then one day, one of our servers, who always brought some things from home for lunch, asked me to try her sardine salad. I’m always interested in what other people make and eat, so of course I tried some, not really thinking I would like it. But I was wrong. The bright sharp flavors and the Thai level spiciness really made an impression. So this is a riff on Kai’s salad.
I know many people are squeamish when it comes to eating fish with skin and bones. Well the marketing gods must have heard you because they now have sardines that are skinless and boneless. Tastes just like chicken, right-ok not quite. But if you like canned tuna, enjoy anchovies in Caesar dressing, or use fish sauce like a champ, then you’re a good candidate to try this salad. And when you pack it full of other flavors, how could you resist?
Sardine Salad with an Asian Twist
There are lots of fish salad recipes, and they have all the usual suspects for ingredients. Mayo, celery, a dash of lemon juice. Boring! This one is spiced up with exciting and unexpected South Asian ingredients. You get a blast of flavor from ginger, lemongrass, shallots, lots of fresh lime juice, and fresh herbs. Use your sharpest knife to finely mince it all; no one wants huge chunks of raw ginger . (If you aren’t a funky subscriber, sign up here and get our free knife sharpening tutorial)
We like things hot in my family, so I added some jalapeno pepper. If you don’t like it spicy, you can just omit it.
When you have all the seasonings minced, mix them well in a large bowl before adding the sardines. Once you add the fish, you want to mix very gently. The sardines are delicate and we don’t want them breaking up too much. This isn’t a mashed salad.
I go a little easier on the salt in my sardine salad because canned fish tends to run salty. So taste and then season accordingly. You can chill this in the fridge for a while before serving. Sardine Salad pairs beautifully with Funky Spicy Green Beans for a light, fresh, and easy supper. You can also try it as a filling for lettuce wraps! If you make this zesty sardine salad, we want to hear about it! Rate the recipe and leave a comment below, or tag us on instagram @funkyasiankitchen.
For more seafood favorites, check out our seafood archives!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- 3 cans of sardines (preferably skinned and boned)
- 2 Tablespoons minced ginger
- 1 large shallot finely sliced
- 1 large garlic clove minced
- 2 lemongrass stalks trimmed and finely sliced (about 3 Tablespoons chopped)
- ¼ red bell pepper, finely diced (I used 3 mini peppers)
- 1 fresh jalapeno or Thai bird chili minced (optional)
- juice of 2 limes
- handful of mint leaves coarsely chopped (about 3 Tablespoons)
- handful of cilantro leaves coarsely chopped (about 3 Tablespoons)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- fresh ground pepper to taste
- Drain the sardines of oil and juice.
- After your shallots are thinly sliced, rinse them in a colander under running water. Drain and set aside.
- In a medium sized bowl, combine the ginger, shallots, garlic, lemongrass, bell peppers, and chilis (if using). Mix well.
- Add the drained sardines.
- Squeeze the limes onto the mixture and add the chopped herbs, salt, and pepper. Gently mix the ingredients together, trying to not mash the sardines (using a fork to help and breaking it up as little as possible).
- Serve immediately or chill in the fridge and serve. Adjust seasoning as needed before serving.
*Canned fish brands have varying amounts of salt. If you are watching your salt intake or your fish is already kind of salty, make the salad without the salt. Taste the salad and then add the salt to taste at the end.