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Fresh Sardines

So, the husband read an article in the Atlantic magazine recently about fresh sardines, and has been on a quest ever since. We found a local fishmonger who is willing to get some for us (he's even had a few other requests!) so we may have a few (or seven) pounds soon. I've only had fresh sardines in Morocco, where they were grilled over charcoal and served with lots of lemon, and they were delicious. That's likely what we'll try to recreate, but I was wondering if anyone else has had any experience with the little guys...

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  1. Just grilled with salt, lemon ans parsley. But while fool around with perfection?

    1. Lucky you. If they are fresh you don't really need to do anything. Just grill briefly. (BTW- they are often sold ungutter-- just gently grasp the head and pull. Everything will come out.)

      1. I grill them "Japanese" style, might be called shioyaki.

        Scale, gut. Butterfly if desired. I like butterflied.

        Season with salt, I use coarse salt, some recommend non iodized, but before I learned that, I used iodized salt.

        Grill on: 1) Gas burner on stove 2) BBQ type grill. Or broil in the broiler.

        Serve with grated "Japanese Radish" aka diakon. An analog to grated diakon would be horseradish. I often put a small amount of shoyu in the grated diakon. Its name may be daikon oroshi.

        If you like the taste of miso, try spreading a thin layer of miso on a butterflied sardine and cook over a flame or under a broiler.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Alan408

          Excellent idea...I always have some white miso in the fridge to make miso soups..and the local grocer started carrying fresh sardines 5-8 inches length head-on...

        2. My BIL is Portugese and they do them basicaly over charcoal & salt. When done they drizzle with periperi (sp) sauce. Pretty hot stuff. Good though.

          1. Some great suggestions already. I love the simple grilled over charcoil with olive oil, salt pepper and a hint of lemon at the end. At the same time put some olive oil, salt and pepper on some rustic bread and grill it up on the grill too. Crunch of the bread with the oilyness of the sardines. Sprinkle parsley on top as an option.

            1. Thanks for the reminder about the salt - I do remember them being salty, almost coated in salt. Maybe kosher salt. I hadn't really thought about gutting them, but since they're so little it shouldn't be much trouble. Does pulling the head off pull out the backbone too? I think when I had them in Morocco they had their heads on, so perhaps one coould just slice their bellies and get the gunk out.

              Good idea about the grilled bread, too.

              1 Reply
              1. re: addiegirl

                In France, they serve them simply grilled with a liberal dollop of Dijon mustard. Excellent. But this is frustrating: every time I mention to my friend that I would love to have grilled sardines like they serve in France, she goes "eeeuuww," no doubt unable to imagine that they could be different from smelly canned sardines.

              2. There's an appealing recipe in Nigella Lawson's "Forever Summer" (July Cookbook of the Month). She grills the sardines briefly, then serves them with Lemon Salsa: remove pith and skin from lemon. Seed and chop. Add 1 chopped red onion, and a handful each of chopped parsley and mint (or cilantro). Stir in 1/2 cup EVOO and the juice of half a lemon. Let macerated while you fiddle with the fish.

                2 Replies
                1. re: pikawicca

                  I'm getting hungry for them. BB got them in frozen last summer. I wonder if they can get fresh with the new vendor. Got a nice piece of Blue Marlin to grill tonight.

                  1. re: Candy

                    We're grilling a piece of your least-favorite fish for dinner. Think I'll whip up some of Nigella's salsa to go with it.

                2. Best fresh sardines I ever made was on St. Lucia , in our hotel kitchenette:
                  I made a curry suce of bloody mary mix, sauteed onions, and curry powder, and poached the sardines in it.
                  The sardines were superfresh- we bought them off the boat from the fisherman, who gutted them for us.

                  1. I love fresh sardines. I get the pretty often during the spring and summer months.

                    Fillet and bone them, skewer them onto sticks, drizzle with olive oil, lemon zest, and hot chiles. Grill them quick and sprinkle with some crisp breadcrumbs and parsley. Fantastic snack while out in the garden.