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When You're Craving Fish Cakes On A Budget, Don't Sleep On Canned Sardines

fishcakes lemon and spinach on a plate
fishcakes lemon and spinach on a plate - ILEISH ANNA/Shutterstock

Fish cakes, a well-known affordable meal or snack, exist as a dish in various cultures and cuisines around the world, but almost everywhere, they seem to have originated as a good way to use up two common ingredients: Fish and starch, oftentimes in the form of potato.

From their humble origins, they've risen to great heights in the hands of Michelin-starred TV superstar chefs like Gordon Ramsay. Plus, there are countless variants around the world, from Mediterranean tuna cakes with pesto to Thai fish cakes that you can make with any leftover salmon you might have.

But making fish cakes with only premium fish such as tuna, cod, and salmon can turn out to be a costly meal, especially when cooking for a big family or a dinner party. There are so many cheaper alternatives, but of all of the affordable fish you could use, canned sardines are undoubtedly the most slept on in terms of price and deliciousness.

Unsurprisingly, there has been a soar in popularity in recent years, during which we've seen the birth of online canned sardine subscription clubs and videos about tinned fish that have garnered more than 30 million views on TikTok

Read more: 12 Underrated Types Of Fish You Should Try At Least Once

Canned Sardines Vs. Other Fish - How Much Can You Really Save?

close up can of open sardines
close up can of open sardines - Vicm/Getty Images

Canned sardines can vary wildly in price. At the lower end, you can usually find them available in the U.S. for about $1. Meanwhile, at the premium end, the Fantastic World of the Portuguese Sardine in New York City reportedly has one type of canned sardine that sells for a whopping $44 a can.

Many people have argued that there isn't all that much difference in taste between gourmet and budget canned sardines, so the reality is that the $1 end of the scale is a great price for a canful of flavor and goodness. By comparison, a can of salmon typically sells for a minimum of $1.88. If you want to replace canned with fresh fish in your fish cakes, the price jumps up substantially. Fresh salmon starts at around $4.00 for a similar amount of fish by weight to a can of sardines, while the price of tuna has risen by 10,000% over 2 decades!

Also, canned sardines are fish that go the distance in terms of flavor. Particularly by comparison to mild-tasting fresh fish like cod and tuna, you won't need nearly as much fish to get the same flavor in your fish cakes, giving them a flavor that's not too mild, but not too overpowering. Plus, as they're already cooked when canned, there's no need to pre-cook your fish before you can start making your fish cakes.

The Underappreciated Joys Of Canned Sardine Fish Cake

various fish types on wooden board with vitamin d spelled out
various fish types on wooden board with vitamin d spelled out - Evan Lorne/Shutterstock

Most importantly, value certainly isn't the only reason to get excited about making fish cakes with canned sardines. For a start, they're nutritionally fantastic, packed with protein, omega-3s, vitamins B12 and D, calcium, and iron. Not only that but there's little to no health downside to consuming canned sardines as often as daily since their smaller size means they contain less mercury than larger fish.

Canned sardines are shelf-stable, making them perfect to buy in bulk and save for some opportunistic fish cake cooking when you next have some cooked potatoes left over. Better still, experts claim that canned sardines age like a fine wine, actually getting better over time!

Another reason you might want to consider using canned sardines to make fish cakes is the sheer variety of options. Not only are there countless different brands offering canned sardines, but the sardines themselves vary in size, species, and seasoning. More intriguing canned sardine variants include smoked sardines, sardines in escabeche, sardines in tomato sauce, and sardines with lemon, olive oil, and herbs. Experiment with different ones until you discover your favorite.

Healthy, diverse, delicious, long-lasting, and exceptionally good value (as long as you don't venture far down the premium end of the scale!), canned sardines are ideal for making fish cakes on a budget. And if you're someone who finds canned sardines a little too fishy, fish cakes are the perfect solution: The potatoes balance and absorb that strong flavor beautifully.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.