Posts Tagged ‘sardines’

Snack Food Review: John West Boneless Sardines In Tomato Sauce

10 March, 2009

THESE are my favourite tinned fish. So far. Unlike Brunswick Canadian Style Sardines, you don’t spend half an hour picking out the bones and mankey bits. And unlike John West Mackerel Fillets in Curry Sauce, they aren’t dry. So far then, John West Boneless Sardines In Tomato Sauce avoid the major pitfalls of tinned fish. But what do you think? And there’s always room for improvement. Time once again to cast a critical net into the sea of tinned fish.

John West Boneless Sardines In Tomato Sauce top of tin

The tin is quite a lot larger yet flatter than most tins of sardines and mackerel. The end result of which is that John West Boneless Sardines weigh 95g. 30g less than the mackerel fillets and 11g less than the very bony Brunswick sardines. That means about a tenth of your usual tin of sardines consists of bones and that grimy stuff you don’t want to eat.

Around the very this sides of the tin is some writing. One side informs you of how doctors recommend that you eat at least one oil-rich dish of fish a week. Imagine how useful it would be having your product recommended by doctors. That’s an endorsement that’s hard to beat. My goal is to find doctors to proclaim the health benefits of emailing me ones bank account details and passwords. I intend to use the proceeds to buy the worldwide stock of oily fish, making me the healthiest and longest living human in the world.

On another side, they say that there might still be some tiny bones in there. So be careful. That the ingredients are sardine fillets, water, concentrated tomato puree, sunflower oil, salt spice and that it may contain mustard. Then the sad news that it was produced in Portugal for John West Foods Ltd in Liverpool. If you can think of a good reason why our own fisherman and fish processors couldn’t produce this for John West, do please leave an explanation in the comments at the end of this post.

The underside of the tin is utterly packed with detail.

John West Boneless Sardines In Tomato Sauce underside of tin

There’s a recipe for Sardine Pizza. Opening instructions. The barcode. And a huge table full of nutrition information. None of which I understand. Fortunately, they’ve summarised the important bits at the bottom. This can has 156 calories and 9.5g of fat. Is that a lot? If you know the answer, leave a comment at the end of the post.

Once open, you’re met with filleted sardines. Filleted sardines that look a lot more fish-like than the filleted mackerel I tried a few weeks ago.

John West Boneless Sardines In Tomato Sauce opened tin

What’s more, if you coerce them out of the tin and into a bowl, you can see for yourself something that is recognisably fishy. Yes, you can see the skin. And yes, that is a delicious dollop of tomato sauce from the tin.

John West Boneless Sardines In Tomato Sauce in a bowl

What do they taste like? They taste of sardines in tomato sauce. Exactly what they should taste like. They crumble into easily edible chunks with little prodding from my fork. And there is zero mess or preparation. No stringy bones to uncover, attempt to remove and miss pieces of. No gunky grey manky bits to pick around. With the healthy dose of tomato sauce, these John West Boneless Sardines In Tomato Sauce aren’t dry, either.

Are there any downsides? From what I can tell, John West drew up a list of downsides to their tinned fish and produced their boneless sardines range as an answer. Because it addresses nearly everything I thought that was wrong with other tinned fish.

But there must be something. If I had to nitpick, it would be the sauce. In Tesco, there was only tomato sauce, which I have here, and sunflower oil. Fine If you’re making a sandwich, but hardly exciting. Maybe salty old sea dogs are the only people who eat tinned fish. The sort of people who don’t like exciting flavours. I don’t know. But I know that I would love to have some seriously spicy and interesting flavours to go with these perfectly prepared sardines.

How can I sum up John West Boneless Sardines In Tomato Sauce? If you want a tasty, good value, easy to eat small tin of fish, I know of no better choice. The sauce might be boring. But it’s worth it for the time you save picking out bones and other gunk you normally get. A must try choice for the lazy fish fan.

Have you tried John West Boneless Sardines? Do you work for John West? Did you like them? Got any recommendations, requests or places to buy? Then do please leave a comment here.


Snack Food Review: Brunswick Canadian Style Sardines with Hot Peppers

19 December, 2008

REMEMBER my look at Brunswick Candian Style Sardines in Louisiana Hot Sauce? No? You’re not alone. No one else has read it either. In short, Canadian Style turned out to be full of bones and fish gunk. And the hot sauce really was hot and tasty.

How, then, will Brunswick Canadian Style Sardines with Hot Peppers compare?

Brunswick Canadian Style Sardines with Hot Peppers

Brunswick Canadian Style Sardines with Hot Peppers

Brunswick Canadian Style Sardines with Hot Peppers

It’s all exactly the same until you open the thing. Just like how the “Hot Louisiana Sauce” surprised me last time be actually being “Hot Louisiana Sauce”? Well, this does the same thing. It actually has hot peppers sitting on top of the sardines. You’ve got to admire the honest packaging of Brunswick.

Brunswick Canadian Style Sardines with Hot Peppers

What does it taste like? Not as hot as I thought it would be. Not even if you eat the small slivers of pepper. There’s some liquid in the tine, but not much. About the same as with their Louisiana Hot Sauce.

I’m about half-way through now, and the peppers are having an effect. At last. This is gradually turning into a satisfyingly hot tin of sardines.

What else can I say about it? Well, the Canadian style is in full effect again. These are nearly complete sardines full of all their gunk and bones. Some of you will love the experience of carefully trying to open and remove the unwanted bits from each fish using only a fork. I however, am not so keen on the Canadian style. Not least because they’re too dry for my taste.

I can’t fault the advertising though. Both this and the Louisiana Hot Sauce did exactly what they promised. And they did it better than the usual big brands they sell over here. They’re amazingly tasty considering how dry they were. If they can do these things but with boneless sardines instead, they’ll have a winner.

Have you tried Brunswick Canadian Style Sardines with Hot Peppers? What did you think of them? Got any requests, recommendations or opinions? Then do please leave a message in the boxes below.

Snack Food Review: Brunswick Canadian Style Sardines in Louisiana Hot Sauce

14 December, 2008

YOU know those little tine of fish. You see them in every supermarket and corner shop in the land. They have a ring pull and are usually filled with sardines. Or mackerel. Or some other type of fish. Well, I’ve been enjoying Princes mackerel fillets and boneless sardines recently. But, what happens when you go beyond the big-name brands?

While looking through Tesco’s ever-growing selection of ethnic food, I found these: Brunswick Canadian Style Sardines in Louisiana Hot Sauce. What they’re doing in the ethnic foods section is beyond me. If you know why Tesco are hiding them there, then do please leave a comment at the end of this post.

Front of wrapper

Unlike they’re British counterparts. These come in a tin, inside a wrapper. If they’re aim is to add a premium feel, then they’ve succeeded. It’s the equivalent of adding foil wrapping to the top of beer bottles. Pointless, but it looks good.

On both sides, there’s a lot of information. Little of which is interesting. If you want me to list the ingredients or whatever next time, then leave a request at the end of this post.

Back of wrapper

They’re serving suggestion involves crackers. Which is a new one to me. They’re web address is A website that helpfully has a section especially for those of us in the UK at With heritage going back to 1893, Brunswick must know how to make a good tin of fish. And I’m fascinated to see what “Canadian Style” means. So, let’s open.


Once out of the colourful wrapper, things become a little more functional.

Opening the tin reveals what look like complete sardines. Minus the head and tail. Decanted into a bowl, I can report that they are actually large fragment. They smell of fish. They look as if they were only just in the water. And they have the manky bits I’m not so keen on. The bones and mysterious brown stuff that I try to avoid.

Opened tin

There’s also not a lot of sauce. I was expecting it to be drenched in the stuff like the sardines normally sold here. But it’s not.

How do they taste? First bite was plain. It tastes of plain old sardines. No bad thing if that’s what you want. But I was hoping for hot sauce. As per the billing. Then it hit. Like the after taste of a beer. It does have a hot taste. Hotter than with most UK brands.

They’ve also done a lot less processing than with the UK brands. I’m pulling out nearly complete backbones and stuff. Some of you will love that. But it’s not really what I’m after from tinned sardines.

Right, I’ve just finished eating. What is there to like about Brunswick Canadian Style Sardines in Louisiana Hot Sauce? It’ll please those who like the experience of eating a fish with the convenience of a tin. There’s no mass of sauce to splash all over your clothes. The flavour is hot.

What did I dislike about Brunswick Canadian Style Sardines in Louisiana Hot Sauce? Well, the sardines were so complete; I spent a good deal of time carefully removing the backbones and manky brown stuff. I hope you have an air freshener and a lid on your bin. If anyone has tips for how to dispose of fish bits, leave a message at the end of this post.

In conclusion, Brunswick Canadian Style Sardines in Louisiana Hot Sauce are not bad. Excellent if you like the fish eating experience. Not so good, if, like me, you prefer a bone-free fish. Outstanding hot flavour though. That’s unmatched compared to the brands over here.

Do please leave your corrections, opinions, requests, recommendations and places to buy in the boxes below. Thanks for reading my first food review!

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