“Sardines” and “sailing” are two words that sailors should say more often in the same bad breath.
A can of sardines pretty much guarantees you’ll either sail single-handed or with someone who loves them as much as you do. There’s no spectrum of affinity for canned sardines.
But canned sardines are excellent food on a boat:
- Convenience: they’re already cooked. You don’t even need a can opener. Just pull the tab to dig in.
- Delicious: tender, flavourful, in many styles. Some of my faves are smoked, in olive oil, and with tomato sauce and hot peppers. If you’re a newbie, try boneless/skinless.
- Nutritious: they’re packed, literally packed, with the things your doctor tells you to eat more of.
- Versatile: eat them out of the can while single-handing, put them on a plate with cheese and wine for your crew, put them in a sandwich. Throw the whole can, oil too, in pasta or soup.
- Compact: pack a lot of cans like sardines while feeling good about keeping a cliche alive.
- Low cost: so much for just $2/can. Often less. Even a can of fair trade, gourmet, organic, wild, curated, grain-fed, conflict-free sardines rarely breaks $5.
For my birthday, a good friend, not an enemy, gave me a can of Belma Balls of Sardines.
She picked them for me because, well, balls.
After I tried them, she’s still my friend.
Heads up: the rest of this review was hard to write so I'll keep it short. I’m giggling too much to see my screen.
Opening the can, I expected tiny fish scrotums (scrota? scroti?). Instead, sardine balls are a traditional dish, popular around the Mediterranean. Somehow, Belma knows that I like Mediterranean food and canned sardines. Also, balls.
Belma makes their balls with pureed sardines, tomato paste, onion, bell pepper, and seasoning. They’re packed in oil. There are six in a normal-sized sardine can.
I poured the balls and oil into a bowl of cooked penne pasta, fresh spinach, and grated cheese. Then I sprinkled some red pepper flakes. Who doesn’t like spicy balls?
They look like pet food but they’re tasty. I’d even say they are an alternative to regular meatballs, believe it or not. The balls are delicate but firm enough to hold together after tossing. The texture is consistent, no chunks, no bony bits. They taste less fishy than a regular can of sardines. They’re also more savoury thanks to the tomato and onion.
Belma Balls of Sardines is extra versatile. They’re both a novelty gift and fun to eat. Also, balls.
At your service