Who thought you could make Sardines Fine Dining?

Ahhh…the poor humble Sardine. Sardines are an acquired taste with a strong flavor and smell, and most people’s experience with sardines is limited to tinned sardines from the supermarket. Indeed, tinned sardines, dripping with oil, is my earliest experience, and my mother would sometimes give us mashed sardines on toast for lunch on the weekend. Fresh Sardines are not nearly as strong and worth putting your preconceived biases aside and having another try.

Named after the island of Sardinia, where Sardines are readily available, these fish are most often found in Mediterranean cuisine, particularly Spanish and Italian. Sardines are often presented with tomato in Spanish-style cuisine, while in southern Italy, Sardines are popular with pasta. One of Venice’s most iconic dishes is ‘Sarde Saor,’ essentially Sardines with vinegar and onion. Because of the history, Sarde Saor was a dish I made a point of finding when I visited Venice some years ago, and it changed my perception of Sardines.

Sardines are inexpensive and good for you, being high in Omega-3 and fatty acids.

Sardines are not something you will typically find on fine dining menus, so I thought I’d set myself the challenge of making a dish with Sardines a little more upmarket. In creating this dish, I have drawn on Spanish influences. Enjoy!

Stuffed Sardines

  • 6 Fresh Sardines
  • ¼ Cup of Parsley (finely chopped)
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
  • ½ Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 Lemon (Juiced)
  • ½ Onion (fine dice)
  • ½ Cup of Raisins (fine dice)
  • ½ Blanched Almonds (fine chopped)
  • ¼ Cup Breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp Sage (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 egg (beaten)

1. Gut and debone fresh Sardines

2. Combine, olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, chopped parsley and paprika, to form a marinade. Place prepared Sardines in marinade and rest for 30 minutes.

3. Lighttly toast blanched almonds in a frying pan.

4. Saute onion in frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Once onions are translucent and beginning to caramelise, add raisins and sage.

5. Remove Onion, Raisins and sage mixture from pan and allow to cool. When cool combine toasted almonds, breadcrumbs, and egg to form a stuffing, season with salt and black pepper. Add more breadcrumbs as required if stuffing is to wet.

6. Fill Sardine cavity with stuffing. Allow to rest.

7. Grill Stuffed Sardines, approx 2 – 3 minutes each side.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Sauce

  • 1 doz Vine Ripened Tomatoes
  • 1 Red Capsicum
  • 6 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Red Chilli
  • 1tbsp Sherry Vinegar
  • 1tbsp Paprika
  • 1 Lemon (Juiced)

1. Blanch Tomatoes and peel.

2. Place Tomatoes in baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Add cloves to dish unpeeled. Place in 180 degree C. oven for approx 30 minutes.

3. Rub Capsicum with olive oil and roast over open flame until blackened. Allow to cool and peel.

4. Add roasted tomatoes, capsicum, and peeled garlic, and finely chopped chill to food processor.

5. Place processed mixture to saucepan, add vinegar, paprika and lemon juice. Bring to simmer over low heat and allow to reduce to about half, regularly stirring to ensure does not stick.

6. Force mixture through mesh sieve with spatula.

7. Return sieved mixture to saucepan and reduce over low heat until puree consistency.

Potato Croquette

  • 3 Large potato’s
  • 100g Butter
  • 1 egg
  • Panko Breadcrumbs
  • Flour
  • Salt and Black Pepper for seasoning
  • Vegetable Oil for frying

1. Peel and dice potato and boil until tender. Drain, add butter and mash.

2. Place mashed potato’s in a square plastic container, and refrigerate to set.

3. Once potato has set, turn out onto board and cut into desired shape.


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