I was approached by King Oscars to review their new range of sardines. I had never tried their brand before as I usually get the Asian brands from the Asian grocers. I was definitely willing to try out some different sardines to see how they all compared. I noticed on the King Oscar sardine cans that their sardines were labeled as brisling. I had no idea what this meant, so it was off to Google to learn some more. As it turns out, sardines ain't sardines. I had always assumed that sardines were synonymous with herring. That basically it was a canned herring. However, it turns out that 11 different species of fish can be classified as sardines. They include herring, sild, pilchard, and brisling, also known as sprats. As I've noticed personally, the fish range in sizes and I now know they're from all over the world. Nordic brisling are fished from the Norwegian fjords and are rather small when fully mature. They're caught when the fish are mature, which is claimed to give them a better more delicate taste. The fish are also high in Omega-3 I read.
With all this new knowledge, it was time to put these brisling to the ultimate test, my mouth and stomach. Firstly, I noticed that the packaging was really beautiful, but that it also had this year on it. It turns out the actual vintage of the sardines is captured. That was something I had never seen before. I think it's a great idea. If wines have vintages so people can gauge which year's was better, why not other things. Surely the weather conditions causes changes in taste from year to year, so it's good to know if you liked a particular year's produce.
Upon opening the can, I found the sardines were packed beautifully. They were all so uniform in size. When I buy the Asian style sardines, they usually all different sizes and broken into many pieces inside the can. The smell from the sardines was very nice, a slightly smokey smell.
I took each sardine carefully out of the can as I didn't want to break these little beauties. To start off with, I wanted to taste them as they were to get a feel for the flavour. So I put some sardines onto my homemade wholemeal bread with some capsicum. The sardine flavour was really delicious. The flavour was quite delicate and the texture really nice, a slight firmness that gave away as you started to bite into them.
Next up, I decided to try them in a dish that I normally use tuna for. I made a simple spaghetti where I mixed the oil from the sardine can into the spaghetti, added some sliced Spanish onion, coriander and the sardine pieces. It was absolutely delicious. The olive oil the sardine had been marinated in had such a wonderful flavour. The fish paired beautifully with the onion and coriander. It was such a simple lunch made in well under 30 minutes, Jamie Oliver eat your heart out. I really loved this dish, even more than when using tuna. I love the texture of the sardines way more than tuna, which I find a bit more "chunky" and dry sometimes. Flavour wise, again I really enjoy the sardines flavour. Maybe it's because I've grown up eating sardines and only started eating tuna not too long ago or maybe sardines are just the poor cousin to tuna and not respected enough. Either way, I really loved this dish more with sardines than tuna.
From my own personal experience, I highly recommend you try out sardines, especially these beautiful King Oscars sardines. These King Oscar sardines are like the "high-end" of sardines, yet are still extremely affordable. The sardines can be eaten in so many ways, but are also great just out of the can. Be adventurous and try them in place of other fish. They work great in salads, with pasta, anything to do with eggs, and in a multitude of sandwich combinations. I will definitely be buying and eating these King Oscar sardines again as I really loved the taste. An added benefit is that they're a healthy food source as well. Winning.
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