On my most recent trip to Castle Market I spotted kilo bags of sardines on offer for £2. I hadn’t banked on buying sardines and was actually after some Rainbow Trout, but given the price and the fact that I could buy them frozen I had to have them!
Once home I stuck them back in the freezer so that I could use them once I’d devised my plan… The people of Twitter and the Blogging world (The Knifeman, Steel City Kitchen, Just Preserves, The Food Nut & He Who Cooks Eats) were happy to provide ideas and I took them all on board when it came round to cooking.
So a quiet Saturday night in was a chance for me to have a go at the sardines. I defrosted 6 of them which was well under half of the bag so I still have plenty left. I had decided to serve them with some crusty bread, salad and a homemade salsa. The salsa was pretty basic. I chopped up about 16 cherry tomatoes, sat them in a sieve to drain off some of the juices, added a bunch of coriander (roughly chopped) half a chilli (finely chopped), a small onion (diced), the juice of half a lime and a sprinkle of salt and mixed everything together.
Onto the sardines. After pre-heating the oven to about 180C the next bit was really bit grim as I had decided to gut them. I just slit open their bellies scrapped all the gunk out and washed in fresh water. Funny how the husband never seems to get cooking when blood and guts are involved! Scaling them was pretty easy as the scales just fell off as I rubbed my hand along the fish under water.
Once I was happy they were clean and I was ready to go, I spread the sardines out in a roasting dish and dotted slices of lemon, garlic, chilli and stalks of coriander between each one along with some knobs of butter. I then squeezed the juice of half a lemon over the fish, seasoned and drizzled with olive oil.
They then sat in the oven for about 12 minutes.
They were delicious. The flesh was incredibly moist and the flavours of the garlic, chilli and coriander came through subtly. The knifeman’s suggestion of salsa was one to be repeated as it contributed to the freshness of the dish.
Everyone said bread was a must and yes it was as it was especially useful to mop up the buttery cooking juices from the fish. And Just Preserves were right; sardines are real finger food as it was easier to pick the flesh from the tiny bones with fingers rather than attempt to use clunky cutlery.
It was a really fresh & simple dish and I think serving one with a bit of salsa and a slice of crusty bread would work nicely as a starter.
As for the rest that are sitting in my freezer I think I’ll char-grill them. Steel City Kitchen and The Food Nut both suggested barbecuing them and as I don’t have a BBQ, the char-grill pan will have to do. I think I’ll serve them simply drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil.
He Who Cooks Eats suggested tying slices of orange around each fish before grilling which is another idea to bear in mind for the next bag, as I WILL be buying more of these little beauties!
Any more sardine ideas to share?