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Unsure How To Use Tinned Fish? Try Starting With This Easy, Flavorful Recipe

Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer
By Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer
Eliza Sullivan is a food writer and SEO editor at mindbodygreen. She writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She studied journalism at Boston University.
Image by Lizzie Mayson
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August 21, 2021

We know that tinned fish is one of the most sustainable seafood options—but it can honestly be intimidating to know where to begin with cooking. Finding a few easy recipes you love that harness the ingredient is the best way to get started, and you can branch out from there with more flavors and applications.

Some of the most notoriously polarizing tinned fish, sardines, are the star of this recipe from One-Dish Fish by Lola Milne. "As someone who works from home a lot of the time (even before lockdowns), I'm always on the lookout for a quick, pack-a-punch lunch," writes Milne. "This is just that: full of flavor, filling and very speedy to make."

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It's worth noting that sardines can be a smart option for your health, too. In fact, they're a favorite of mbg Collective member and functional medicine doctor Mark Hyman, M.D., who advises eating smaller fish to avoid potential mercury (which is more present higher up the food chain). In a mindbodygreen podcast episode, he shared that he sticks with "SMASH" varieties—salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring.

Now, for a tasty take on the fish that puts the "S" in "SMASH," give this flavorful sardine recipe a try.

Curried Sardines on Toast

Serves 2


  • ½ large onion, thinly sliced 
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 x 4¼-oz. cans sardines in olive oil, drained (or tinned mackerel or tinned smoked mackerel)
  • 2 teaspoons mild curry powder
  • 2 large slices of sourdough bread
  • Salted butter, for spreading
  • 1 red chili, thinly sliced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Mango chutney or lime pickle, to serve


  1. Preheat your broiler to medium-high and place the oven shelf in a high position. In a small bowl, steep the onion in the lemon juice and set aside. In another bowl, crush the sardines with the curry powder and season with a little salt and lots of black pepper. 
  2. Pop the bread into a small roasting tray and broil on one side, then turn and very lightly broil the other side. 
  3. Spread the lightly broiled sides of the toast with butter, and top each with half of the sardine mixture, taking care to spread it right to the edges. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes until starting to look golden on top. 
  4. Pile the marinated onion slices and chili on top of the sardine toasts and serve with a spoonful of mango chutney or lime pickle alongside. 
Excerpted with permission from One-Dish Fish by Lola Milne, Kyle Books; photography by Lizzie Mayson.
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Eliza Sullivan
Eliza Sullivan
Food Writer

Eliza Sullivan is an SEO Editor at mindbodygreen, where she writes about food, recipes, and nutrition—among other things. She received a B.S. in journalism and B.A. in english literature with honors from Boston University, and she has previously written for Boston Magazine,, and SUITCASE magazine.