Alton Brown Has One Rule For Buying Canned Sardines

Alton Brown is a huge fan of the sardine. In fact, in an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, he said sardines are on his shelf of canned fish along with some of his other seafood favorites. Brown stated that he likes to eat, "Massive amounts of sardines. Smoked sardines. Marinated sardines. Canned mackerel. We eat a huge amount of squid because I'm pretty sure they would eat us all if they could. They're aliens."

Sardines have a mild, but tasty bite and can add a lot of flavor to your sandwiches, salads, and pizzas. However, if you are going to cast your culinary nets towards these sweet tinned poissons, Brown has one rule you should follow. According to Brown's 2016 cookbook, "EveryDayCook," via Kitchn, Brown recommends skipping those packed in water and tomato sauce and instead heading straight for those packaged in oil. But why?

They taste better

What advantage do oil-packed sardines have over those that are soaking in water or tomato sauce? It's all about the taste. This omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish's flavor becomes even richer when packed in oil. Similar to tuna, when sardines are packed in water they lose some of that umami we know and love, but olive oil locks in their moisture. This, in part, is due to the fact that sardines are inherently oily fish to begin with. The olive oil also helps temper the sardine's flavor from having an overly fishy taste. 

How does Brown use this fish? He likes to use sardines in his dips and spreads, especially when he is making his famous sherried sardine toast. Brown told Time Magazine that when he makes his signature toast and response to the avocado toast trend, "It is critical that the sardines be bristling (small) and that they be packed in oil. Smoked is okay too."