11.16.2009

Small Fish, Big Pond

I have a tiny fish fetish.

At home, my new pre-dinner snack routine goes like this: uncork a bottle of wine, pop a few pieces of crusty bread in the toaster, and crack into a can of Casa Lusa Portuguese sardines. Drizzle the toasted bread with olive oil, spoon a few hunks of sardine over top, and enjoy.

I've come a long way from the days when, nose wrinkled in distaste, I'd stare in disbelief at my dad as he downed a can of sardines packed in mustard.

Small fish — anchovies, herring, sardines — are getting some good press lately. The oily little guys are fabulously healthy thanks to high levels of omega-3s and a sustainable choice. Jane Black checked in on the Sardinista movement for The Washington Post this summer, with some great recipes.

Health benefits and sustainability aside, they're also really damn tasty. I've been buying those Casa Lusa sardines in tins at Whole Foods. But when I head out, my go-to for petite poissons is Bar Pilar, where you can almost always find Spanish anchovies served on grilled bread and, occasionally, whole grilled sardines. Perfect with a glass of Cava.

Other places I hit for a fishy fix: Oceanaire for the free pickled herring on the bread platter, BlackSalt for wood-grilled sardines from the Mediterranean, and Dino for white anchovies and whole roasted sardines.

Have a favorite brand of sardines or anchovies? Or a favorite restaurant dish? Do tell.

15 comments:

FrenchTwistDC said...

In the tiny fish category, I also love La Tasca's Boquerones en Vinagre - delicious little anchovies marinated in garlic and olive oil!

Olesh said...

I too love salted and smoked small fish. My wife and friends think I am an old man.

2 Amy's has a nice anchovy in vinegar dish that is great before pizza.

When I was out in Northern California I met an artisanal canned sardine producer. His sardines were lightly smoked, skinless and boneless. They were a little pricey and the packaging looked like cat food.

http://www.canneryrowsardineco.com/

When I was a kid my favorite brand of sardines was Sprats, but I have not seen those in a long time.

Way too much enthusiasm on this topic.

Amanda said...

La Tasca and 2 Amys - both great bets for teeny fishes. And thanks for the link to Cannery Row, Olesh! I just googled and noticed the Post did a blog post on it.

LiLu said...

You had me at "salty"... I really need to give these guys a try.

b-Ro said...

you can get sprats at Domku in Petworth. Dee-lish.

culocho said...

Try this recipe. It's the most amazing use of anchovies ever. http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/pan-seared-skirt-steak-with-anchovies-and-lime Plus it's fast and a Jacques Pepin dish.

Reid said...

I'm glad people mentioned 2 Amys here. Their small fish plates are fantastic, especially their pickled sardines, which are one of my favorite meals around.

Adam said...

King Oscar smoked kippers

Amanda said...

Y'all are about to have me walking out the door to 2 Amys...

And culocho: that recipe looks amazing! I would have never thought to put steak and anchovies together but I can totally see it working.

mary said...

Love this post as I am in the middle of trying to convince myself that I like sardines and anchovies. I'm watching the comments attentively.

wordnerd said...

Brunswick Sardines, packed in water, with a few Giant Black Olives....makes the PERFECT snack.

anytime.

FrenchTwistDC said...

Pickled sardines? I must go to 2 Amys!!

Fred Bonnett said...

Amici Miei in Rockville has a great sardine app. over salad.

Taylor said...

What about smelt? I saw fresh smelt at Harris Teeter last week and I was intrigued, but wasn't sure what to do with them...

culocho said...

Another amazing dish is the Bluefish at Hook. It's grilled, served over the softest/sweetest gnocchi, then surrounded by small black olives and pickled anchovies. Perfect combination of sweet, salty, sour and fatty.