Egg and Sardine Heaven
Fisherman’s Eggs is a great, cheap standby recipe which can be on the table in 20 minutes. I add a layer of tomatoes to up the veggie content (yes I know a tomato is a fruit) but in an emergency you can just skip that layer, or replace it with canned tomatoes for a more store-cupboard friendly meal.
This egg and sardine dish is ridiculously healthy with plenty of protein, calcium and more vitamins than you can shake a stick at. It’s real brain food. I serve it on toast as a complete meal, but if you’re a paleo person, a low carb eater, gluten intolerant, or just out of bread, you can serve it without. If you have fresh crusty French bread then it’s great served with that instead of toast as you can use that to scoop juices, rather than using the toast to absorb them.
I love a runny egg, but as ever if you’re serving a dish like this to a pregnant person, young child, elderly person or someone with a compromised immune system then cook the egg all the way through til it’s firm.
- Prep time:
- Cook time:
- Ready in:
- Feeds: 2
- A handful of cherry tomatoes
- Two cloves of garlic
- Can of good sardines in oil
- 4 fresh free range eggs
- Ground black pepper
- Toast or bread to serve if required
A metal handled frying pan is ideal for this dish, and lots of others, as it gives you the versatility to go from stovetop to under a broiler to the oven and then to serve all in one pan.
- Preheat the oven to 375F, 190C, Gas 5
- Slice the garlic and cut the tomatoes in half
- Pour a tablespoon of the oil the sardines came in into a small metal handled frying pan (or a warmed oven proof dish).
- Cook the tomatoes and garlic for two minutes to warm the pan and soften the tomatoes just a little.
- Arrange the sardines on top of the tomatoes and pop into the oven for 5 minutes.
- Take the dish out of the oven, the sardines should be warm but not crisped
- Crack the four eggs on top of the sardines, try to keep the yolks whole, it’s not a disaster if they break, but they won’t be runny or look as pretty.
- Aim get them to sit in four evenly spaced spots, but again don’t be sad if they pool in one area or squish out to the sides, this dish is meant to be quick, filling and delicious, not elegant.
- Pop the pan back in the oven for five minutes, then check on it, if the eggs are done to your liking, then it’s ready, if not pop them back in until you’re happy with the level of done-ness.
- Grind some black pepper on the top then serve immediately, either on toast, with bread, or with salad.
I like skin and bone in my sardines and I’m not afraid to admit it. Anyone with a family history of osteoporosis should certainly be opting for bone in sardines, but some people are pernickety, so the cans labelled skinless, boneless sardines are the sardines for them.
The Humble Sardine
Sardines are a curious foodstuff, when eaten in Mediterranean port cities they are heavenly, and everyone bemoans the fact that you just can’t get food like that at home, but you can, and people don’t bother.
In the UK they have a bit of a hangover reputation from tougher times. My parents have fond memories of a can of sardines being a bit of a treat during the period of rationing during and after the Second World War. That wartime reputation meant people didn’t want to eat them when they could get access to fresh meat, although both parents do still perk up at the smell of frying Spam, a real wartime treat, but not something most people would no class as a luxury item.
I was put off by their close cousin, the pilchard. Pilchards themselves are perfectly nice, but during the 1970’s three-day week when the UK had intermittent electrical power and lots of foods were in short supply, we sometimes had cold canned pilchards in tomato sauce. Not even candle light could turn that into a fun meal.
I’m now a keen eater of canned fish. It’s cheap, nutritious and sustainable, and you can rustle up a good meal in minutes from a can in the pantry.