Pilchard is the name for a mature SARDINE, a fish belonging to the herring family. There are many species found all over the world.
Pilchards grow to 10 inches in length and are in season in the northern hem-isphere from July to December. Pilchards have a high fat content and because of this do not travel or freeze well. They may be bought fresh on the coasts where they are caught, and cooked by either grilling or frying. The bulk of the pilchard catch is canned in oil, tomato sauce or sometimes brine. Canned pilchards are readily available and require no cooking.
Pilchards are valuable sources of vitamins A and D and supply protein and fat.
To grill fresh pilchards, make three diagonal slits on both sides of the prepared fish. Preheat the grill to high. Place the fish in the grill pan, sprinkle with a little salt and lemon juice and brush over with a little melted butter. Place the pan under the grill and cook the fish for 15 to 20 minutes or until the skin is crisp and the flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork. Turn the fish once during cooking and brush with a little melted butter.
To fry pilchards, bone and fillet the fish, roll them in oatmeal and fry in the same way as HERRING.