Homemade Spanish sardines with hot pandesal is my favorite merienda growing up in the Philippines. I love its unique spicy flavor which goes well with the sweet and salty taste of hot pandesal. The smoked paprika and olives that are glistening with healthy olive oil that’s characteristically European. And the taste of bayleaves with roasted red bell pepper that brings it all together.
Spanish Sardines also goes well with fried or plain steamed rice. Its a staple food you will find in every Filipino breakfast table alongside fried eggs.
How do you make Spanish Sardines?
It is so easy to make your own batch. A step by step instruction is provided in the recipe box below. You simply boil all the ingredients in olive oil and a little water in a pot uncovered until the fish and its bones are so soft that they get easily crushed with very little pressure. Boiling it in a pot would take time though, anywhere between 90 to 120 minutes. Using a pressure cooker or an instant pot to cook it would drastically cut the cooking time in half.
What are the ingredients?
The main ingredient would be sardines. Get it as fresh as you can. I remember going with my mom to the market early so we could pick the freshest sardines or “tamban” to make Spanish-style sardines.
Note: A popular option is to use milkfish or “bangus” if you can’t find sardines.
Other ingredients are olives (preferably green), garlic, carrots, dill pickles, roasted red bell pepper and bayleaves. Spices like smoked paprika, red chilies, and black peppercorns to bring out that unique taste. And a good quality olive oil to cook everything in. That’s it, its that simple I kid you not.
I always prefer homemade recipes over commercially available brands. That way, I have full control of the freshness and quality of the ingredients used and the amount of salt added to the food. I can even adjust how hot I like it. That’s something that you can’t do with canned sardines – you just open it up and eat it as is.
Moreover, canned sardines contain preservatives that can be harmful to the body. Just some of the advantages of having full control in preparing your food.
The following recipe is a faithful reproduction of my mom’s recipe. Hope you like it as much as I loved it through the years.
Homemade Spanish Sardines
- 1 tbsp Rock salt
- 4 cups Water
- 2.2 lbs Sardines de-scaled, cleaned with heads and tails chopped off
- 1 cup Olive oil extra virgin
- 9 cloves Garlic peeled
- 8 pcs Bay leaves dried
- 1 cup Green Olives
- 1 tsp Whole black peppercorn
- 1 tsp Smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp Rock salt
- 1 small Carrot Cut crosswise
- 2 pcs Pickles cut crosswise
- 1 tbsp Red bell pepper roasted
- 5 pcs Small chilies
- 1 cup Water
- Clean the sardines by removing the scales, chop off the heads and tails and remove the intestines.
- Prepare the brine by dissolving 1 tbsp rock salt in 4 cups of water.
- Soak the sardines in brine for 30 mins.
- Put all the ingredients, garlic, bay leaves, olives, paprika, sardines, chili, carrot, pickles, roasted red bell pepper, salt, and black pepper in the inner pot.
- Add olive oil and water to submerge the ingredients but not too much that it exceeds the maximum fill line.
- Pressure cook for 30 minutes.
- Release the pressure and open the cover
- Allow to boil for a few minutes to ensure that all the water is gone leaving only the olive oil
- The dish is now ready to serve