In Memory Of Karen Nicole Smith, 1972 - 2016

Oh lovely sardines from a can?

trinidad sardine chokaFish is a serious turn off for a lot of people and even more unattractive is when that fish comes in a can. But if you’re a regular on the site, you’ll know that I have a series that I call “lazy man” dishes (Corned Beef / Salmon). And today we’re about to add a new member into the family. Since it’s one of those meals you can put together in mere minutes and it’s very delicious. Providing you’re not afraid to try something a bit different.

My Trinbagonian people will know that this is a common snack type dish and everyone seems to have their own way of putting this together. No real cooking is involved, and you can experiment with ingredients as well.

BTW, fellas this is not something you eat before that big date your special someone. The combo of sardines and onions on your breath will not win you any points.

You’ll Need…

1 can sardines (I like the ones with the peppers made by Brunswick)
1/2 tomato sliced thin
1 scallion sliced thin (optional)
Juice of 1/2 lime or lemon
Black pepper
1/4 onion sliced thin
1/4 hot pepper sliced (I used a habanero – you can use whatever you have or like)
2 tablespoon vegetable oil (I like using olive oil)

Let’s see if we can do this in 3 steps.

Step 1.

Slice the onion, tomato, scallion and hot pepper very thin and set aside.

trinidad sardine choka (2)

Step 2.

Open and empty the sardines into a bowl. The following step is optional, but this is the way I saw my mom doing it… break each sardine down the middle (length-wise) and remove the middle bone (can be left, but I find that it gives the dish a gritty texture that I don’t like) and secondly you must remove the inside of the belly (there’s no polite way of saying “guts’). Then break apart each fish so you have chunky pieces.

trinidad sardine choka (3)

trinidad sardine choka (4)

trinidad sardine choka (5)

trinidad sardine choka (6)

Step 3.

Top with all the stuff we sliced earlier, squeeze in the lime or lemon juice and add a dash of black pepper. Then on high heat, heat the oil in a small frying pan and allow to heat until you’re about to start seeing smoke. Now pour the hot oil over everything and stir well. YOU’RE DONE!

trinidad sardine choka (7)

trinidad sardine choka (8)

trinidad sardine choka (9)

trinidad sardine choka

You can call this a salad, choka, talkarie or as in my case… a lazy man’s dish. Works well as a topping for Crix (a locally made crackers), on sandwiches, with roti , pita… you get the point.

I’d love to hear how our friends from the other islands and around the world make this (if you do) so please leave me a comment below and don’t forget to join us on Facebook. Our goal is to have 25,000 fans by the end of the year. Please help us make it happen.

Happy Cooking


Caribbean Pot on Facebook
Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. George Martin
    July 18, 2020 / 1:55 am

    I am too lazy to follow your recipe. I crush mine with the lime and pepper sauce, add some mayonnaise or salad dressing (thousand Islands) and make a sandwich spread. Delicious!

  2. brian
    February 12, 2019 / 5:55 pm

    a great tasty recipe , the hot oil was an unexpected triple plus, not brave enough to use habenero but added hot pepper ! i bet this works with other canned fish too. a simple 5 star recipe!

  3. Melissa
    February 12, 2019 / 4:34 pm

    Your recipe made me long for “home”. This is exactly how we ate it; sometimes made a sandwich, or with roti, or just like that. My kids stay out of the kitchen when I eat this. They just don’t understand……

  4. December 7, 2018 / 10:58 am

    Thank you, Chris.

  5. Zara Maratheftis
    February 1, 2018 / 11:33 am

    I cannot get your cookbooks in the UK?

  6. Maarten vos
    June 12, 2017 / 11:46 pm

    Yes it is really delicious ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thank you chris for sharing all those luvely recipes with us !!!

    Goodday ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Danielle Godfrey
    April 5, 2017 / 8:09 pm


    I did a simple version of this with oinion and hot pepper, salt & pepper. That’s it but your version sounds much better so i will try it!!!

  8. Barb
    November 14, 2016 / 8:08 pm

    I love sardines! I usually eat them right out of the can ~ “guts” and all. I will definitely give this recipe a try. Thanks!

  9. Jason
    June 28, 2016 / 8:24 pm

    I literally just finished eating this dish made from your recipe. I’ve never enjoyed sardines so much before. Quick, easy and delicious. Very interssting how u added the hot oil after. Will deffinitely be looking forward to more from you. Keep it up.

  10. Pauline Allen
    June 21, 2016 / 1:23 pm

    Thanks chris i love fish so will be trying this dish.

  11. Sherry
    March 25, 2016 / 11:05 am

    I love sardines any how especially fried dry I tried this an love it

  12. Hiliare
    March 8, 2016 / 8:18 pm

    Hi Chris, love your recipes. For this one I normally sautee the same vegetables plus sweetpeppers and then add the sardines, along with some ketchup. Or sometimes I mix all the ingredients dry and add mayonnaise to it, pretty much like how one would do tuna.

  13. Debbie
    November 25, 2015 / 11:32 am

    Quick and easy…added a bit of chopped garlic as some have suggested.Went down a treat as a quick snack.

  14. Astrud
    November 8, 2015 / 11:58 am

    Make -heat up white vinegar, turn off fire, add thinly sliced onion, scotch bonnet peppers, pimento seeds, chocho, carrot-( boil water to scorch/sit in water covered, chocho and not boil. This just softens vegs, if you don’t like strong taste of raw veg, especially chocho, which isnt too nice raw). Cover vegs in cooled vinegar, then add a little to crushed or whole sardines. Eat with some plain excelsior crackers or creme crackers or hot buttered hard dough bread.

  15. Harcourt Bethel
    August 17, 2015 / 10:18 pm

    … and serve on the top of, or side of, yellow grits! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. diane b
    August 12, 2015 / 12:27 am

    ohhh yes love my sardines going to make this and looks soo yummy easy peasie

  17. Elle
    April 20, 2015 / 12:22 pm

    Hey Chris,

    My version might be more lazy than yours. I basically squish the sardines with a fork. Add some finely chopped onion, garlic, hot pepper and pimento. Sprinkle of salt and drop of lime juice…and voila.

  18. Dennis M Sankar
    April 12, 2015 / 9:47 am

    I do it similar to yours ,except mine does not see the fire,
    not even the olive oil ; however , it must have enough
    pepper. That kick is essential.

  19. Bea
    February 24, 2015 / 10:11 am

    Chris, I prepare mine the same way. The only difference is that I add garlic and saute the seasonings. Thanks for your hints, tips and recipes.

  20. Bea
    February 24, 2015 / 10:08 am

    CaribbeanKing, Let’s just recap what Chris wrote: “You can call this a salad, choka, talkarie or as in my caseโ€ฆ a lazy manโ€™s dish.” He calls it a Lazy Man’s dish.

  21. October 29, 2014 / 7:42 am

    This is one of my favourite quick lunches. It’s gotta be hot and full of red onion. I don’t use scallions. And I LOVE eating the bones – they’re definitely not gritty tasting. The ‘guts’ that you’re removing are not guts, they’re actually the roe of the fish. All of guts are removed before the fish are cooked and tinned. Fish roe is delicious. Basically, stop removing bits of the fish. Everything in those tins is very edible! ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Barbara
    August 8, 2014 / 3:41 pm

    Hi Chris

    I really look forward to receiving your hints, tips and new recipes. This sardine dish on crackers or toast is one of my favourite snacks. I make it a little differently – all the ingredients except that I sautรฉ them first as opposed to putting the olive oil afterwards. Nevertheless it’s delicious and nutritious too.

    Looking forward to your next issue of ‘sizzle’.

  23. Joy
    July 6, 2014 / 6:40 pm

    I normally add a little mayonnaise and mustard.

  24. Ingrid
    March 26, 2014 / 6:58 pm

    Just a little finely chopped garlic,shadon beni,and 1 leaf spanish thyme

  25. Ingrid
    March 26, 2014 / 6:56 pm

    Just a little finely chopped garlic, spanish thyme,and shadon beni

  26. CaribbeanKing
    February 17, 2014 / 10:09 am

    who de ass teach yuh to make Sardine Choka like that…boi, i don’t know what that is but its not Sardine Choka

  27. Carmen
    November 18, 2013 / 1:42 pm

    Add grated or finely chopped garlic.

  28. November 2, 2013 / 3:29 pm

    You ROCK!
    My Dad absolutely loved sardines….and I followed in his footsteps. This brings me back to a wonderful memory of sharing “tea time” with some of Mummy’s freshly baked bread topped with a similar mix sans the hot oil.
    Thanks for the memories!

  29. Kiwi Lorraine
    October 22, 2013 / 1:45 am

    Hi Chris..and Everyone. I too love sardines and love the way you all are presenting them! Chris yours is similar to how my mum used to prepare them in New Zealand YUMMO! Everyones versions are worth trying..Thanks Chris for bringing us all together over you wonderful mouthwatering creations! Happy Cooking and Eating Everyone! ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Lynne Skerritt
    September 3, 2013 / 7:14 am

    Fabulous – with avocado on the side!!

  31. Star Fish
    August 22, 2013 / 6:27 pm


    Let me tell you how it went down……was going through your site, came across this, jumped out of bed, put everything together, made a cup of tea and this bad boy right here went down GREAT with a salt bread lolololololol. And I am now back on the site going at it again like nothing happened lolololololol. You gain get me fat I swear lolololololol. Quick and easy, loved it.

  32. gowra
    July 25, 2013 / 7:32 pm

    Hey Chris,
    Another twist to your dish. I clean up the fish, then I cut up onions very fine, not chunky, but sliced. I cut some cabbage just as fine. Then I grate some carrots on the fine side of the grater. I also cut op tomatoes, but not big slices like yours. I mix them together with a bit of mayo and some pepper. Preferably bird pepper, but if you can't get it , then slice the scotch bonnet very fine and add it to the mixture. It goes great as a dip and could be used on crackers, toasted bread and my son's favourite – daal and rice with sliced cucumbers. Boy I making my own self dribble.

  33. paul
    June 21, 2013 / 9:50 pm

    Hey Chris

    You just have to come up with a recipe for gluten free roti.

    Lots of Celiacs out there. And my 10 yr old loves roti but is autistic & a gluten free diet has been a big plus for him


  34. pria
    May 8, 2013 / 6:49 am

    Been trying to find a way to consume these fish and THIS is it! Thank you!

  35. Gary
    May 7, 2013 / 4:35 pm

    We eat them cold with thinly sliced onion, peppers and tomatoes on crackers. But more often, we fry onion and some potatoes, then add chopped tomatoes and the sardines to warm thru. This mixture we will eat with rice or roti. Sardines make a great, inexpensive and nutritious meal! Thanks for the recipe Chris.

  36. Jayne
    July 28, 2012 / 3:04 pm

    Hi Chris ,you do sardines pretty much the way i do except for the heated oil and seriously i've never heard anyone doing it that way either but i can assure you i'm gonna try it ,i happen to like variety and this seems interesting . At the moment i have my Hops dough rising hope it comes out good ,wish me luck ! I've also been looking at your other dishes and there are variations that i'm surely going to try .What i especially love about you is the way you love your Hot Pepper and i'm certainly going to try those sauces with the fruit . With my cooking and your ideas i think i'm going to fall back in love with food . Thank you !

  37. Deanna
    June 24, 2012 / 2:58 pm

    My Norwegian grandmother introduced me to sardines at a very young age. To my delight, she allowed me to roll back the can cover with the attached metal key. We just ate them straight from the can on soda crackers. Now I'm a senior with a more adventurous palette, and my long-lost desire for sardines has re-emerged. A quick Googling brought me to this site. I've made this recipe twice now (on my way to the store for a lime for a third serving), and I'm hooked! It's summer in AZ and this quick, easy, tasty, nourishing dish is perfect for those no-energy days when it's just too hot to think about cooking. Thanks for adding something wonderful to my little world.

  38. TriniGirl
    June 9, 2012 / 9:48 pm

    LOL..I love is one of the Trinidian joys….and your recipe is very yummy…I add shredded leaf lettuce and 'taco' it…lol…a cup of hot tea and ah good..Bless.

  39. Constantine
    May 27, 2012 / 5:19 pm

    I tried the recipe, but had to modify it. It came out fine. I enjoyed it with a toasted ciabatta roll. Yes, it is sort of a “lazy man’s” dish, but it solved the challenge of what to make for dinner with a can of sardines.



  40. Jennifer R.
    May 13, 2012 / 4:23 am

    Thanks for reminding me of all the dishes from back home.
    I love sardines just the way you prepared it, I also add avocado and thyme. I like it with Jasmine rice or Crackers. Keep up the good work.

    Jennifer R.

  41. Dedre Ali
    April 28, 2012 / 7:03 am

    Hi Chris,
    Thank you for representing us so well. Love your work. Your Bhaigan Choka recipe is the best ever

  42. April 27, 2012 / 10:34 pm

    Hi Chris, love your recipes. The best sardines I have ever had is curry sardines served with coconut bake. I know "curry sardines" sounds weird but don't knock it 'til you try it. You cook it just like you are cooking curry shrimp or any other curry. Fry up one each of onion, tomato and clove of garlic. Chris you can put your pepper in also. Mix your curry powder with a little water and add it to the cooked vegetables, or if you make your curry sauce by adding the curry powder directly to the vegetables, fry it up and then add about a cup of water. When your sauce is just starting to thicken then you put in your two cans of sardines. Spoon some of the curry sauce over the sardines, cover them and cook just for one to two minutes maximum making sure that you have enough sauce to dip your bake in. Try not to break up the sardines. Remember they are already cooked so you are just basically trying to give them that curry look and taste. Serve with the hot buttered coconut bake.

  43. Karshel
    April 20, 2012 / 10:49 am

    Hello Chris I just did your steamed fish and it was truly delicious! I did not have any okra so I used beans in its place and it was still great! Thanks for all these lovely dishes………..

  44. rene
    March 15, 2012 / 11:23 pm

    hmm didn't like it all that much but it was definitely better than plain sardines. I used brunswick sardines as suggested

  45. dacha68
    March 14, 2012 / 9:30 pm

    Would you believe I was actually thinking of this today? My Dad made this for me long ago and was wondering how to do it? PERFECT FOR LENT! You're amazing Chris, amazing!

  46. Alf
    March 11, 2012 / 4:46 am

    I have never tried sardines that way; but will try it. Looks very yummy and with crackers. (buscuits) I* like Sardines.
    Thanks Chris.

  47. Ameena
    July 25, 2011 / 4:38 pm

    I could imagine some of this with some Crix and some lime juice …. OH Lord let me count the ways I miss Trinidad and Tobago

  48. anony mouse
    March 30, 2011 / 6:23 am

    FYI: canned sardines in oil have a not-healthy omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. I use the ones packed in water.

    It might not be authentic, but I think some chopped cilantro on top would be tasty.

  49. Pamela
    February 8, 2011 / 7:23 am

    I Brunswick is the best. Not as strong as some. Lighter dishes that involve little or no
    cooking is a plus. Thanks Chris for all of your wonderful recipes.

  50. Kit
    October 29, 2010 / 9:49 am

    I scrape the skin off, cut off the little fins, cut them open and remove the gut, bone and the spinal cord. Then I add finely sliced onion, some finely chopped garlic, cubed avocado, scotch bonnet pepper, some olive oil and a huge squeeze of lemon juice. I have this every single morning. Then I shower, and brush my teeth, tongue and use lots of mouth wash. I love Brunswick brand in olive oil.

  51. simmie
    July 13, 2010 / 12:38 am

    this looked sooooo good i just made it and had it with coconut bake…….HEAVENLY!!!!! tanx 4 sharing.

    • July 14, 2010 / 7:42 pm

      thanks for leaving the comment…much appreciated.

      • Richard
        July 28, 2010 / 8:24 pm

        we make the sardines as in your recipe but we add Zaboca(avacado)
        With fry bake,dat is the best!!

        • Janice
          October 17, 2010 / 6:18 pm

          I agree 100%. I remember those days as a child in Trinidad having this dish for supper. You forgot to mention coconut bake or roast bake as some might call it.

  52. July 2, 2010 / 8:45 am

    Thanks. I’m sure you’ll find ones that you’re happy with.

    happy cooking


  53. June 1, 2010 / 2:41 pm

    This looks wonderful and simple! I'm definitely making it this week! I like fast meals and btw, I'm a HUGE fan of corned beef too!

    But yes, meals in a can are just as mouthwatering. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

    • June 17, 2010 / 2:49 am

      so how did it turn out for you?

  54. May 27, 2010 / 4:15 am

    Sardines are wonderful provided you know how to mask the fact that they are canned! I made a sardine hummus that i liked a lot and I love your sardine salad; with these fresh vegetables how can you go wrong!

    • June 17, 2010 / 2:49 am

      Sounds lovely and you're so right about masking.

    • June 17, 2010 / 2:50 am

      thanks for having me ๐Ÿ˜‰

  55. May 11, 2010 / 11:59 pm

    Can you get Brunswick sardines with olive oil where you are.. I can only get the soybean oil ones. Lately, I've been using the sardines from Morocco and they're pretty good (they are with chillies too).

    • May 12, 2010 / 12:15 am

      Tuty, we're lucky enough to get a variety from Brunswick. With : olive oil, in lemon juice, pepper, mustard… the list is long. But I try to stay with the ones I'm familiar with. How does the ones from Morocco compare? Any brand in particular?

      happy cooking


      • May 20, 2010 / 1:17 am

        Yes, you’re lucky, Chris.

        The Moroccan’s brand is Al Amir. It is less expensive than Brunswick’s sardine in soy bean oil and it is more tasty in my opinion.

  56. May 9, 2010 / 12:19 pm

    Love trying out completely different styles of cooking. Really enjoying trying some of your recipes.

    • May 12, 2010 / 12:13 am

      Thanks. I'm sure you'll find ones that you're happy with.

      happy cooking


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.