The Philippines is so fortunate to have seas that are teeming with a wide variety of marine life. Fish is aplenty and affordable especially in the southern part of the country. Because of its abundance, fish are canned straight from the sea to preserve their freshness and nutrient content. In this country, the ‘sardinas’ is known as the ‘poor man’s meat.’
Fish has become the average man’s staple in tandem with rice and veggies. Fish dishes are so easy to prepare and can be cooked in a hundred and one ways. As an important part of Filipino food, dishes with fish are proudly lined up along with other specialty dishes during special occasions.
Here is one delectable pasta dish with sardines that any ordinary Filipino will surely love. Easy on the budget and easy on the palate, the dish is packed with vitamins and nutrients. For an added flavor, roast peppers are given importance in this meal.
3 red bell peppers or other sweet, red roasting peppers
1/2 pound spaghetti
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste and for cooking pasta
1 can (5 ounces) sardines either packed in oil or water
Basil for garnish (optional)
- Roast peppers, peel and cut into chunks or strips and set aside.
- Boil a pot of salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Set aside 1/2 cup of the pasta-cooking water.
- Drain the pasta and set it aside.
- In the same pot used in cooking pasta, or a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium high heat.
- Add the garlic, chile flakes, if preferred, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Cook for about 1 minute, stirring, until fragrant.
- Add the sardines and stir so that the sardine fillets start to disintegrate.
- Add the reserved peppers and stir.
- Add the pasta and the reserved cooking water. Cook and stir until the liquid is absorbed.
- Serve the pasta topped with finely chopped basil.
Pasta dishes are best served with grated cheese sprinkled on top. Filipinos locals love to eat their pasta with a slice or two of toasted bread.
Fish, a rich source of protein can be a suitable substitute for red meat which is good for people with heart illness. In fact, sardines contain numerous nutrients and minerals that support heart health. For one, they are one of the most concentrated sources of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.
Further, they’re also rich in Vitamin B12, said to promote cardiovascular wellness. Another important nutrient, Vitamin D which supports bone health is also found in sardines. With its presence, Calcium is easily absorbed in the body. Phosporous, an essential mineral that strengthens the bone matrix is contained in sardines.
Around the world, there are at least twenty known varieties of fish that are sold as sardines. What’s common among these varieties is that they are silvery, small, saltwater, rich in oil and, having soft bones.
If you’re a budding chef, go ahead and re-invent your own pasta recipe with sardines using the tried and tested well loved Filipino recipes.