These recipe ideas from Japan show just how delicious fish from a can can be! 

When it comes to seafood, sardines are certainly not one of the most popular choices. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who lists them as their favorite snack. When they’re canned, it’s even more difficult to get people to even consider eating them.

In Japan, though, fast and easy recipes are pretty much a necessity when you’re working the typical salaryman life. In your overworked, hazy state of mind, you may have picked up a can of sardines instead of the tuna you were going for. What do you do with it? Japan’s mottainai lifestyle–“waste not, want not”–means that it’s not okay to throw it away. This sentiment is perfectly summed up in this recipe for leftover KFC soup.

That’s where the creative genius of Japanese cooks come in. We’ve found five recipes that use canned sardines in ways we never could have come up with on our own.

1. The Man-killer Rice Bowl

sardines-2Cookpad/Kyoko0007 (edited by RocketNews24)

Donburi recipes – your favorite ingredients piled on top of a bowl of rice – are a go-to for those who want to eat abundantly and quickly. This sardine rice bowl is especially simple and bears a slightly frightening name. The Otoko-koroshi don – “The Man-killer Rice Bowl” – is named after a dish that was featured in novelist Yoko Mori’s essay, You’re What’s for Dessert (Dessert wa Anata). It’s said there isn’t a man alive that can finish the whole thing.

Japanese cooks proved that wrong pretty quickly. If you’re brave enough to try it, all you’ll need are a can of sardines, green onions, soy sauce, cooking sake, and rice. Here’s Cookpad user Kyoko0007‘s recipe, which she says is a big hit with her family:

1. Empty a can of sardines into a frying pan and turn on the heat.
2. While the sardines are frying, chop up some green onion.
3. Add a tablespoon each of soy sauce and cooking sake when the sardines are heated through.
4. Finally, put some steaming rice into a bowl and top it off with three sardines and green onion.

2. Sardines Mixed with Japanese Ginger and Rice

sardines-3Cookpad/KT121 (edited by RocketNews24)

Some of the most convenient dishes can be made using one piece of kitchenware: a rice cooker. You can make tons of recipes using only a rice cooker, like these green tea pancakes. In this sardine recipe, Cookpad user KT121 combined the two powerful flavors of canned sardines and ginger in order to create this surprisingly delectable dish. Here’s how to make enough for two people:

1. Wash two servings of rice and add it to the rice cooker bowl.
2. After adding one and a half tablespoons of soy sauce, two tablespoons of cooking sake, and 2/3 of a teaspoon of sugar or brown sugar, use water to provide the rest of the necessary liquid to cook the rice.
3. Thoroughly drain the oil from the sardines, then add that along with a head of minced ginger to the rice cooker.
4. Press the “cook rice” button and cook as you normally would.
5. When the rice is done cooking, add three small cloves of sliced myoga, or Japanese ginger.
6. Mix everything together in the rice bowl, then transfer your desired amount into a serving bowl.
7. Top it off with chopped green onions and shiso (Japanese basil) to your liking.

3. Canned Sardine Pasta Peperoncino Style


Japanese cooks have perfected the classic mixture of sardines and pasta. The best part? You probably have most of these ingredients sitting in your kitchen cabinets already. This recipe from Nissui makes enough for one serving:

1. Start by boiling a serving of spaghetti.
2. In a frying pan, combine half the oil in one can of sardines with one minced clove of garlic and one chopped red chili pepper.
3. When the ingredients start to give off an aroma, add half a thinly sliced onion.
4. Add the sardines when the onions are cooked slightly.
5. Finally, mix in the spaghetti and add salt. You can also try adding some celery or some tomato sauce to it too!

4. Sardines and Cheesy Breadcrumb Bake

sardinesPecolly/Kamekichi Papa

Here’s a sardine recipe that will satisfy cheese and bread lovers. Pecolly user Kamekichi Papa came up with this recipe after puzzling over how to get rid of his alarming stock of canned sardines. There’s basically no prep involved, so this is a great recipe to throw together when you’re in a rush and curious about what canned sardines would taste like with cheese.

1. To start, drain the oil from one can of sardines and add the fish to a bake-safe dish.
2. Add in a heaping spoonful of pizza sauce, sprinkle on some pizza cheese, and add a tablespoon of breadcrumbs.
3. Throw it in the toaster oven for about 5 minutes, top it off with some Tabasco sauce, and voila! You’ve used up that can of sardines that’s been sitting on the counter for way too long.

5. Canned Sardines Ajillo Garlic Oil Fry

You can use this recipe to trick your friends into thinking you’re stylish. This Spanish-inspired dish gifted to us by Cookpad user indiansun requires only a few simple ingredients. The only thing you might not have on hand is a baguette, but that just means a short trip to the nearest bakery.

1. Begin by mincing one clove of garlic with some fresh Italian parsley.
2. Next, slice up one red pepper, then slice up your baguette into slices of your desired thickness.
3. Pop open a can of sardines and flavor it up with a splash of lemon juice, along with some salt and pepper. Put the red pepper, garlic, and parley mixture on top.
4. Put both the baguette and the sardine mixture into a grill or toaster oven, making sure they don’t touch.
5. Add a dash of parsley, then cook until the sardines start to sizzle. Recipe: complete!

We hope these sardine dishes gave you some ideas to try out in your own kitchen. Let us know how they turn out! For even more simple recipes, check out this vast collection from our archives.

Sources: Naver Matome
Featured image: Pecolly/Kamekichi Papa (edited by RocketNews24)