This retro dish is a childhood favourite of mine. I used to think that it is a Chinese Indonesian dish. But, it seems that it is also a common home-style dish in other South East Asian countries like the Philippines and Vietnam.
Consisting of only a few ingredients and cooking steps, it is very easy and fast to prepare and delicious to eat. As this dish uses canned sardine which is inexpensive and is a good source of omega-3 fats and calcium (from the softened bones), it is also a healthy and nourishing budget food.
As a child, I could not stand garlic, onions and stewed fish but I absolutely loved this dish and always looked forward to the next time my mom would cook it again. The mung bean vermicelli would absorb most of the sauce and flavours of this dish and was always the first to be gobbled up. So, now that I cook it regularly myself and have a daughter who is also a big fan of this dish, I always add a little extra vermicelli so that between us, we have plenty to gobble up.
Sardines with Tomatoes and Vermicelli
Chop 1 clove of garlic finely. Slice ½ of an onion into 6 sections. Slice 3 small (300g) fresh tomatoes thinly. Soak 2 small packets (50g each) of mung bean vermicelli in hot water for 3 minutes. Loosen it up with a fork or chopsticks. Drain and rinse with cold water. Slice 1-2 stalks of spring onions finely. Boil about 2 cups of water and set it aside.
Heat 1 Tbsp of oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic. Stir briefly until fragrant. Add the sliced tomatoes, a pinch of salt and a small pinch of sugar. Stir for about 3-5 minutes until the tomatoes are softened and starting to go mushy. Add the onions and stir for about 2 minutes. Add the hot water. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add 1 small (215 g can) canned sardine. Stir very gently to mix it in to avoid breaking the sardines. Add the vermicelli and spring onion. When the mixture has gone back to the boil, remove it from heat and serve it immediately with steamed rice.