Friday, 10 August 2012

Fresh Sardines on Toast with Simple Salad

Sardine fillets are served on a slice of toasted Tiger bloomer with side salad

Sardines on toast for most people will probably mean opening a small can of sardines in tomato sauce - or perhaps sunflower oil - and laying them straight on to some hot, buttered ordinary toast. While this does make for a quick, easy and delicious snack or lunch, fresh sardines not only take the sardine eating experience to a new level, they can provide a tasty and satisfying dinner. Add to this the facts that fresh sardines in the UK at least are incredibly cheap to buy and they are full of omega-3 fatty acids and you have a winning combination in a number of ways.

Ingredients per Person

2 fresh, whole sardines
1 thick slice of Tiger bloomer bread
1 medium tomato
2 inch piece of cucumber
6 pitted black olives
6 pitted green olives
1 clove of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp plain/all purpose flour
Shredded basil leaves to garnish (optional)

Fresh sardines ready to be filleted


It is incredibly easy to whip the fillets off fresh sardines. Lay the sardine on one side on your chopping board and with a proper filleting knife, cut in behind the pectoral fin, angled slightly towards the head. When you hit the bone, twist the knife gently and slice back along the bone to the tail. Remove the fillet, turn the sardine over on to its other side and repeat.

Filleting a sardine

When you have filleted the sardines, you will need to wash off the excess blood and gore. Don't be tempted to do this under running water, as the fillets are so delicate, this could damage them. Instead, dip them in a bowl of cold water and gently rub them clean with the ball of your thumb.

Sardine fillets are gently washed in a bowl of cold water

Put the flour on a dinner plate and season with salt and pepper. Bring some olive oil up to a medium heat in a non-stick frying pan. Pat the sardine fillets one at a time in the flour on both sides and add them to the pan, skin side down in the first instance. Fry for a couple of minutes on the skin side then reduce the heat and very carefully turn them over on to their flesh sides for about a further minute.

Pan frying lightly floured sardine fillets

When the sardine fillets are in the pan, get your bread on to toast until golden on both sides.

A slice of Tiger bloomer bread is cut for toasting

Peel the garlic clove and lightly crush it before rubbing it over the hot toast. This imparts a beautiful additional flavour to the toast and the dish.

Garlic is rubbed on the hot toast

Cut the cucumber and tomato in to segments, mix with the olives and season with salt and pepper. Plate alongside the toast before drizzling with a little extra virgin olive oil.

Tiger bloomer toast and side salad are plated, ready for the sardines

The sardine fillets should be laid skin sides up on the toast. The basil leaves (if you are using them) should be rolled and sliced before being scattered roughly over the sardines and salad for service.

Tuck in and enjoy sardines on toast, the likes of which you may never have tasted before...
A basil garnish is optional before you tuck in to your fresh sardines on toast

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