Deboning Sardines

Reprised from a couple years ago, with updated links:

Monterey Bay Seafood Watch has been both celebrating the return of the sardine–the “traditional” commercial fish of Monterey Bay–and encouraging local consumption of it, as a good choice of sustainable seafood. Accordingly, Phil’s Fish Market–where everyone goes for seafood around these parts–offers an affordable dish of grilled sardines; they come with a buttery lemon-caper sauce.

Anyone thinking of those tiny little fishies packed into sardine tins can think again; these sardines are a lot bigger and meatier. I had three sardines on my plate, and believe it or not, I was full by the end of the meal.

There is one problem, however. While tinned sardines can be eaten whole, bones and all, fresh-caught sardines caught in the Monterey Bay have a fine, yet more formidable bone structure, and I for one would rather not try to crunch through them.

So, my companion, Michael, showed me how to de-bone my sardines right in the restaurant:

DeBoning Sardine1
One de-boned sardine and a whole one (well, sans head).

DeBoning Sardine2
Turn the sardine on its side, steady with a fork, and slice the thing open from the top.

Open up the two halves, grasp the tail, and just lift the bones up and out of the fish.

What you have left is mostly the meat. Enjoy!

For more about sardines, see:

* In Praise of Sardines
* Grilled Monterey Sardines with Lemon and Herbs (Epicurious)