The sardine is a young PILCHARD caught off the coasts of various European countries, particularly Sardinia. In North

America, parts of the U.S.S.R. and northern Scandinavia, the name sardine is also given to a young HERRING.

Most sardines are bought canned, either in olive oil or tomato sauce. The heads are removed before canning, but the bones are not. After the canning process is completed the cans are left for up to 2 years to mature. By this time, the bones soften and become edible. Fresh sardines are not always available in Great Britain or North America, but are fairly abundant in southern Europe.

To cook fresh sardines, brush with melted butter and grill under a grill preheated to hot for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, depending on the size, or until the flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Sardines may also be fried. Coat the sardines in flour and fry in butter for 3 to 5 minutes on both sides, or until the flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork.

In Portugal sardines are often cooked on a small type of barbecue made of clay, and these are often used on the small boats that go out fishing for sardines.

Sardines are an excellent source of nutrients. They contain protein, fat, calcium and vitamins A and D.

Sardines may be served as hors d’oeuvrc, appetizers or as a tasty filling for sandwiches.

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