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:

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

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

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

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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)