Many of us will be most familiar with sardines as a cheap fish that comes in a tin. However, when fresh, this diminutive member of the herring family (sardines are in fact the same species as pilchards, the only difference being one of size) is delicate, delicious and high in omega 3.
Employing a sous vide method will enable you to achieve consistently good results when cooking sardines and other small fish because the controlled temperature and long cooking time prevents the fish from overcooking or becoming dry.
- Preheat the water bath to a temperature of 52⁰C.
- To clean the sardines, rinse thoroughly in cold water and dry with kitchen paper.
- Gut each sardine and cut off the head.
- Open out each gutted fish, flesh-side down, and press firmly along the backbone until completely flat. Turn the fish over and gently pull away the backbone, removing as many bones as possible as you go.
- Sprinkle the butterflied fish with salt then grease all over with olive oil.
- Seal the fish inside a vacuum bag, place in the water bath and leave to cook for 20 minutes.
- Take the fish out of the bag and serve.
To add flavour to the sardines, you could try replacing the olive oil with an alternative fat, such as spicy chorizo oil or butter infused with seaweed.
Blowtorching the skin of the cooked sardines will produce a deliciously crispy finish. You only need to apply the blowtorch very briefly; if you leave it on for too long, the fish will overcook.
The most traditional way to serve sardines is on toast, often as a simple breakfast or snack. Adam Gray offers a refined take on this classic in his recipe for Sardines on toast while Robert Thompson adds flavour and flare by serving his Grilled sardines on ciabatta with tomato confit, basil and tapenade.
If you fancy serving your sardines with something other than toast, you could try Nathan Outlaw’s Mediterranean-inspired sardines with paprika mayonnaise or Shaun Hill’s sardines with Jersey royals and salsa verde.
Recipe courtesy of www.greatbritishchefs.com