Lockdown Recipe Series: 3 Noodles with Tinned Sardines – Laksa, Pasta and Soba!

Staying on the theme of simplified lockdown recipes, this next one in the series celebrates my favourite of all the humble tinned fish – SARDINES! Nutritious, budget-friendly, meaty and packing a punch in the flavour department, this handy store cupboard staple can totally transform noodles, be it pasta, soba or laksa! Here are a three makeover ideas for tinned sardines that will bring a taste of KL, Palermo & more to your homes.

Cheat’s Curry Laksa with Sardines

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 180g tinned sardine fillets
  • 400g rice vermicelli noodles, cooked (or a 50:50 mix of egg noodles & rice vermicelli)
  • 150g beansprouts (or green beans or whatever leftover/frozen vegetables), blanched in hot water until cooked
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 100g shallots, puree’d in a small food processor or blender
  • 2.5 tbsp Malaysian Curry Powder (Adabi or Baba’s brand preferably)
  • 500ml fish stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 200ml coconut milk (Aroy-D or Chaokoh brands preferably)
  • 2 tbsp ready-made Sambal chilli paste (I favour ‘Tean’s Gourmet’ if you can find it)

Seasonings (to taste, below are some guide amounts):

  • 1 tsp tamarind puree (or juice of half a lime)
  • 1 tsp palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • Large pinch salt


  • Blanch the beansprouts in boiling water for 1 minute, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. If using dried rice vermicelli, reuse the hot water to blanch the noodles per the packet instructions till cooked. Drain off the water and set aside ready for later.
  • Heat up the oil in a saucepan and sauté the shallot puree and curry powder for 4 to 5 minutes over a low-medium heat until fragrant.
  • Make up the Laksa broth by adding the fish stock, coconut milk and sambal. Bring to simmer and cook for a further 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the tinned sardines to the hot broth then season to taste with fish sauce, salt, palm sugar and tamarind puree (or lime juice).
  • Assemble the cooked noodles and blanched vegetables in a bowl. Ladel the hot Sardine Laksa broth over the noodles and serve!

Sicilian-style Sardine Pasta

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 180g tinned sardine fillets
  • 200g dried Spaghetti (or Linguine / Bucatini)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (if your sardines come in olive oil, you can use the oil from the tin to cook with)
  • ½ a bulb of fennel, finely chopped (reserve the herb tops for garnish)
  • ½ a red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 dried chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped into coarse flakes
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • ½ a lemon, zested and juiced
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • Sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
  • Optional: 2 tbsp pinenuts, toasted
  • Optional: 1 tbsp breadcrumbs, toasted


  • Heat up the olive oil in a sauté pan. On a low-medium heat, lightly fry off the fennel, onion, dried chilli and fennel seeds for 1 minute. Cover the pan loosely with a lid, leaving a small gap for steam to escape. Reduce the heat to low and leave the fennel and onion to slowly caramelise in the oil, its own juices and spices for 20 minutes.
  • Turn the heat back up to medium and add the cherry tomatoes, raisins, lemon juice and wine. Deglaze the bottom of the pan by scraping all the bits of fennel and onion. Once the wine has reduced by roughly half, add in the tinned sardines and cover with a lid. Cook out for 1 to 2 minutes until all the flavours come together. Season to taste with salt and pepper then take off the heat and keep warm. If the sauce base starts to dry out, add a tablespoon or 2 of water to loosen.
  • In a pot of boiling water, cook your pasta per the pack instructions till al dente. Drain and mix the pasta through the sardine sauce base.
  • Serve up the pasta and garnish with the fennel tops, breadcrumbs and pinenuts.


Sardine Soba with Spicy Black Bean-Soy-Vinegar Dressing

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 180g tinned sardine fillets
  • 200g Soba noodles
  • 150g spinach (or whatever leftover vegetables you have)
  • 1 stalk spring onion, sliced for garnish

Spicy Black Bean-Soy-Vinegar dressing:

  • 1 tbsp Laoganma black bean chilli oil (normal chilli oil will suffice as a substitute)
  • 1 tbsp Chinkiang black vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sugar (to taste)
  • Pinch of salt and white pepper (to taste)


  • Mix all the dressing ingredients together. Adjust the seasoning with sugar, salt & pepper to taste. Add in the tinned sardines, lightly mashing up the fillets. Mix everything together so the flavours get to know one another. This is ready to eat cold, but if you prefer to eat it hot, you can gently warm it up in a pan (or the microwave) before mixing with the noodles later.
  • In a saucepan of boiling water, cook the soba for about 4 minutes until al dente. Add the spinach to the same pan as the soba to blanche for 30 seconds until the leaves have wilted.
  • Drain the cooking water and refresh the noodles and vegetables in a large bowl of cold water to stop the soba from overcooking and prevent it from clumping. Drain off the water when the noodles have cooled.
  • Add the dressed sardine to the noodles and spinach to taste. Garnish with spring onions and serve up!

Happy cooking folks. Stay well and stay at home!