Australian Sardine

Sardinops sagax

Australian Sardine



Available wild-caught. It is a free-swimming marine fish found mainly offshore to the edge of the continental shelf from Hervey Bay, Queensland, south to Shark Bay, WA, where inshore schools are more common. Caught mainly by purse seine off NSW, and in Bass Strait, though most of the catch comes from WA and, increasingly, SA.

It has a distinctive narrow silver stripe along the side of its body with dark blue spots underneath it. Also used for canning, as pet food and food for farmed Tuna.

Other Names

Pilchard, Picton Herring, Blue-bait.


Clupeidae (Herrings).


Available year round with peaks off WA in winter.

Size and Weight

Commonly up to 100g and 18cm, but can grow to 480g and 20cm.


Low priced.


Anchovy, Blue Sprat, Bony Bream, Herring, Pilchards, Sandy Sprat, Sardines.

To Buy

Sold whole and in fillet form. In whole fish look for lustrous skin, firm flesh, and a pleasant, fresh sea smell. In fillets, look for reddish-brown, firm, lustrous, moist flesh without any brown markings or oozing water and with a pleasant fresh sea smell.

To Store

Make sure whole fish is scaled, gutted and cleaned thoroughly. Wrap whole fish and fillets in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze whole fish or fillets for up to 3 months below -18ºC.

To Cook

Average yield is 42%. Has a strong flavour, medium oiliness and medium moist, soft reddish-brown flesh, many small, soft bones, which are easily removed and large, easily removed scales. The edible skin can be left on.

To butterfly whole fish: slice down full length of belly of gutted fish until just before the tail, place belly-down on a chopping board and roll gently with a rolling pin several times to flatten, pull head gently up and away towards the tail, removing head and bones together.

Smaller fish are considered better eating than larger ones.

Cooking Methods

Pan-fry, bake, grill, barbecue, smoke, pickle. Their strong flavour makes them good in fish paste, pâté and spreads. Handle carefully as their soft flesh falls apart easily.

Goes Well With

Bay leaves, breadcrumbs, chilli, cumin, garlic, ginger, herbs, lemon juice, lime juice, olive oil, onion, pepper, tomato, vinegar.


Australian Salmon, Eel, Mullet, Tailor.


Imported, mainly as Tuna feed and frozen (for human consumption), from USA.


Baked Butterflied Australian Sardines with Parmesan Sage Crust
Butterflied Australian Sardines with Herb & Olive Stuffing
Marinated Australian Sardines Fried in a Crisp Coating
Pan-fried Australian Sardines

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