|Grilled sardines served on a bed of stir fried and spiced vegetables|
Sardines are a hugely popular eating fish in Portugal. This is largely because, of course, the Portuguese have access to sardines so fresh that they can have them cleaned and on the barbecue or grill almost before they've stopped twitching! It's sadly not possible to get sardines quite that fresh in the UK but many supermarkets do stock them as fresh as possible and if you have only ever tried sardines out of a tin or can, you really should give something like this a go where you can get your hands on the necessary ingredients.
Ingredients (Serves One)
2 fresh whole sardines
3 small to medium new potatoes
2 handfuls of mixed stir frying vegetables of choice (recipe here includes mixed bell peppers, red onion, carrot and more)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil plus extra for oiling sardines
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
Shredded basil leaves to garnish
The first step is to cook and cool the potatoes. Put them in to a pot of cold salted water and bring the water to a simmer for about fifteen to twenty minutes until the potatoes are just about softened. Drain, cover and leave to cool.
You could ask your fishmonger to gut the sardines for you. If doing it yourself, do it at your sink and make a slit with a very sharp knife along the belly before carefully removing the insides. Rinse in a bowl of cold water.
|Gutted fresh sardines|
Make sure you have all your stir frying ingredients ready to go while you bring your grill/broiler up to a high heat for cooking the sardines. The cooled potatoes should be sliced in to three or four thick pieces.
|Spiced vegetable ingredients|
I like to cover my grilling tray with foil to make cleaning up easier but this is optional. Either way, use a pastry brush to oil the tray/foil with vegetable oil and oil both sides of the sardines in the same way. Lay the sardines on the tray and season well with salt and pepper. Grill for three or four minutes each side until the skin is starting to blister.
|Fresh sardines ready for grilling|
When the sardines have been turned to grill on their second side, heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a deep frying pan or wok. Add the vegetables and smoked paprika, seasoning further with salt and black pepper. Stir fry on maximum heat for two or three minutes.
|Stir frying vegetables and spices|
Lay the vegetables in a serving dish to serve as a bed for the sardines.
|Spiced stir fried vegetables bed|
The sardines should be lifted on to the vegetables and garnished with the chopped basil. When you have eaten the top side of each sardine, you should be able to lift from the tail, pulling the bone free to access the underside.
|Bones should peel cleanly out of part eaten sardines|
Perfectly cooked sardines should leave you only with the heads, tails and the backbone in between, looking very much like the fish bones left by a cat in many cartoons!
|Clean sardine bones, heads and tails|