To most North Americans the sardine is a little fish that comes in a can. To the Portuguese, the "sardinha" is THE flavor of summer. From north to south, Portuguese relish the smell of fresh-grilled sardines. So, what is the difference? In the summer 6- to 8-inch sardines are caught in Portugal territorial waters--from the mainland to Madeira, to the Azores, and back.
These tasty, oily fish are totally different from their cool canned cousins. Grilled with a dash of course salt (Portugal produces some of the best salt in the world, but that's a tale for another day), they are served by the dozen, often with a side of boiled round potato in their skins, smashed, grilled and seasoned green peppers, a fresh salad, and virgin olive oil. (The Portuguese use a high quality olive oil much like Americans use ketchup.) Accompany this with a jar of local red wine and you have a "sardinhada" !