VCS Sardine Meatball Tips

DSCN2363On April 16, Executive Chef Kelly Armetta of the Hyatt Regency came in as our Visiting Chef.  He showed our trainees a tasty dish that’s nutritious, inexpensive, and easy to make: sardine meatballs. These fish may get a bad rap, but it’s completely undeserved. They’re packed with nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for good health. Our bodies are incapable of producing them, but they are needed for a number of normal functions. Omega-3s can also offer protection against heart disease. As for their taste, like anything else, quality counts. Poorer quality sardines can be oily, fishy, and bitter. However, higher quality ones are more akin to tuna.

The Preparation. Select sardines canned in olive oil. These are often of better quality, plus olive oil has many health benefits of its own. Drain the sardines, then finely chop them. Mix with bread crumbs and desired spices. Good choices include onion powder, garlic powder, ginger, and paprika.  Use eggs as a binding agent.

The Sauce. When making a simple dish, it’s important to cook with heart and really make it your own. A great way to do this is with a sauce. For these meatballs,  try a tomato based one, seasoned to complement their flavor.  Simmer the sauce before adding the meatballs.

The Finish. A benefit of used canned sardines is that they have already been cooked. This means the only component of the meatballs that needs cooking are the eggs. For maximum flavor, simmer them with the sauce until the eggs are cooked through. Serve with couscous, pasta, or plain white rice. The meatballs also freeze well. If going this route, use an ice cube tray so they freeze separately.