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Grilled Sardines with Salsa Verde
Sustainable Seafood Recipe
The flavors of the Mediterranean shine in this delicious appetizer accented with fresh herbs and lemon. Grill slices of crusty bread along with the sardines, and squeeze the juice from the caramelized lemon halves over the fish before eating. For a lovely meal, follow with a light seafood stew and then peach slices soaked in white wine with a touch of sugar.
Wild-caught sardines from the U.S. are a "Best Choice
- (Serves 4 as an appetizer)
- 1/3 cup very finely chopped red onion
- Coarse kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon capers, preferably salted
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- Freshly ground pepper
- 3 lemons
- 8 whole sardines (about 12 ounces total), scaled and cleaned
Place the onion in a small bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let stand 5 minutes. Mix in the vinegar and let stand 10 minutes more. If using salted capers, place them in a small bowl, cover with water and let soak 10 minutes.
Combine the parsley, tarragon, chives, garlic, lemon juice and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Remove the chopped onion from the vinegar, squeeze to remove excess liquid, then add the onion to the herbs. Drain the capers, pat dry and chop, then add to the herbs. Whisk in 6 tablespoons of oil. Season the salsa verde to taste with salt and pepper.
Finely grate the zest from 1 lemon and squeeze the juice from the lemon. Cut the remaining 2 lemons in half crosswise. Sprinkle the sardines with salt, pepper, lemon zest and juice, turning to coat.
Prepare a barbeque grill with a hot fire. Place the sardines on the grill rack and cook until browned and just opaque in the center when pierced with a small, sharp knife, about 2 minutes on each side. Arrange the lemon halves cut-side down on the grill rack and cook until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes.
Place 2 sardines and 1 lemon half on each of 4 plates. Spoon the salsa verde over the sardines and serve immediately.
Hints from the Chef
- To remove the fine scales from a sardine, run the fish under cold water while scraping lightly toward the head with the edge of a small knife.
- To clean a sardine, cut the belly open and remove the insides with a spoon. Or, ask the fishmonger to clean it for you.
Chris Cosentino, Executive chef of Incanto, San Francisco
Co-founder of Boccalone, San Francisco and Pigg, Los Angeles
Wild-caught sardines from the U.S. are a "Best Choice."
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