Sardines are small, oily, saltwater fish with soft bones. Because sardines are soft-boned, people typically eat them whole; the bones provide a source of calcium. Cooking sardines in a pressure cooker helps the flavour of your sauce permeate into the fish and soften the bone. Two common ways to cook sardines are in oil (Portuguese style) and in tomato sauce (Spanish style). Both are simple to make and provide homemade alternatives to canned sardines.
Remove the heads and guts from the sardines, but do not remove the scales.
Soak the sardines for 15 minutes in 1/4 cup salt mixed with 2 cups water, then drain and rinse them with cold water. This will help draw out the blood.
Place the sardines and sauce ingredients in a pressure cooker. For sardines in oil, use 2 cups olive oil, 2 bay leaves, 1 carrot, thinly sliced, 1 pickle, thinly sliced, 1 red chilli, 6 cloves, 2 tsp whole peppercorns and 1 tsp salt. For sardines in tomato sauce, use 2 cups tomato sauce, 10 whole cloves garlic, peeled, 1 bay leaf, 1 tbsp smoked paprika, 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp salt.
Close the lid of the pressure cooker, and place it on a burner over high heat. When the pressure cooker starts hissing, turn the heat to low, and cook the sardines for 20 minutes.
Remove the pressure cooker from the heat, and let it cool for about 15 minutes or until it stops hissing and steaming. At that point, the pressure cooker will be safe to open.
Fresh sardines spoil quickly. To avoid spoilage, store raw sardines in the refrigerator in a bowl of ice, and cook them within a day. You can store your sardines by canning them in jars. Homemade, canned sardines make great gifts.