wingchong.jpg russosboat.jpg The Roadhouse takes a trip back in time. A historical retrospective of our local Sardine Fishery.


Cannery Row in Monterey was the center of the sardine canning industry and was celebrated in literature by author John Steinbeck in his novel, “Cannery Row.”

Sardines are a group of several types of small oily fish related to herrings. Sardines were named after the island of Sardinia where they were once in abundance. The sardine industry began as on off-season activity for tuna and squid fisherman. In the early 1900’s after realizing that California sardines were of higher quality to those found in Europe, the harvesting and processing of the sardines became a major industry. The demand for fish meal and canned fish led to an escalation of the amount of fish being taken in the bay from 16,000 tons in 1917 to 70,000 tons in 1918. The take of California sardines continued to grow until its peak in the 1936-37 season when 790, 000 tons were fished. After this there was a rapid decline in the numbers of sardines found in the bay and scientists from the California Fish and Game Commission, as well as most others saw over-fishing of sardines and anchovies to be the primary cause of reduction in their population. In the early 1950’s the bottom fell out of the industry. It was no longer profitable to exploit this natural resource, and the labor force which supported this industry was forced to find employment in other areas. Since then active management and protection for the sardines and anchovies have seen a bloom in their population here.

Our local sardine and anchovy fishery history is a classic case of the plight of most fisheries around the world. This case is an example of the resilience of our ocean’s creatures when given the chance to live and thrive by man-kind which results in a positive impact for all. Anchovies were never as prevalent as they are today and the sardines are also back in healthy numbers. Around the wharf in spring and summer, schools of sardines will swim in and you can catch them on small-hooked jigs.

Roadhouse Recipe:


Sardines are rich in omega 3 fatty acids offer high levels of Coenzyme 10, a powerful antioxidant promoting a strong immune system, calcium and Vitamin D.

Serves 8 Ingredients:

1kg fresh sardines (cleaned and boned)

2 pinches saffron

2 tablespoons sultanas (raisins)

100 ml olive oil

2 tbls toasted pine nuts

2 onions

8 anchovy fillets (optional)

2 bulbs fennel

750g bucatini pasta

½ tea. Chili flakes

4 tbls.

Fresh breadcrumbs

Salt and Pepper to taste

Soak saffron in two tbls. of boiling water and steep the sultanas in half a litre of boiling water. Warm half the olive oil in a frying pan and add the pine nuts toasting them to a golden brown before removing them to a paper towel to dry. Peel and finely chop the onion and add to the oil in the pan stewing them for 15 min. over medium heat. Add the anchovy fillets and half the sardines cooking for an additional 10 min. until anchovies and sardines both fall apart. Add the infused saffron and its liquor, the sultanas and the pine nuts and remove from the heat. Slice the fennel finely and stew gently for 10 in the remaining olive oil. Drain reserving the oil. Season the remaining sardine fillets and cook under a hot grill. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil and add the bucatini. Remove and drain after 8 min. Keep one cup of the pasta water. Toss the bucatini with the onion-anchovy-s
ardine mixture and create a layer of the pasta mixture in a wide ovenproof dish. Place a third of the pasta in the bottom followed by half the fennel laid on top and then half the sardine fillets. Sprinkle with half the chili flakes. Add another layer of pasta mixture, the remaining fennel and another layer of sardines topped with the chili flakes and cover with the remaining pasta mixture.
Add a ladleful of the pasta’s cooking water and scatter breadcrumbs over the surface. Top with the remaining fennel oil and bake for 15 min at 200 degrees Celcius.


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