The small, slivery, rich-fleshed sardine has a green back and yellow sides. Sardines reproduce rapidly, but their populations depend on favorable marine conditions. Pacific sardines once supported one of the largest and most profitable fisheries in the U.S., but by the late 1940s the fish were virtually gone. While it is likely overfishing contributed to this, the dramatic decrease was later found to be part of a natural “boom and bust” cycle, which occurs in Pacific sardine populations every 30 to 40 years when a change in water temperature and oceanic conditions favors either sardines or anchovies.
Availability: Seasonal (Summer months)
Texture and Flavor: Soft, moderately oily flesh, dark meat
Cooking Methods: Grill whole, bake, broil, pan-fry
Substitutes: Smelts, Mackerel