September 25, 2021 —
In this case, grilled means barbecued, but a grill works well too.
It’s the end of the barbecue season and I bought some briquettes on sale. My real barbecue is on loan, so I constructed a makeshift version out of four bricks, an old rusted iron oven pan and the grill from our cooker. It worked a treat. However, I hadn’t realised the nights were drawining in quite so quickly – so most of the cooking was done not only in the the company of a few determined mosquitos but also by the moonlight.
This recipe is from Jarvis in Norbiton, where I bought my sardines. The fish were spanking fresh and looked like they had been lifted from the sea only a few hours earlier. I suggested that I would put them on the barbecue and the fishmonger said absolutely – just as they are, no cleaning – bit of salt and olive oil. I said like they do them in Spain, and he replied, yes, and Portugal… and I suppose you can add any country you like that has access to sardines, warm weather, the seasid and beaches.
For surely, the eating barbecued sardines is hard-wired in our minds to make us think of hot, sunny holidays by the sea.
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6-8 whole – very fresh – sardines uncleaned
2 tsp dried oregano
Small bunch of parsley
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This recipe uses whole uncleaned fish. It does not alter the flavour, and it does not make the eating any more tricky than a cleaned sardine. You do not need to scale the fish, however, I found that the scales come off easily whilst rinsing in water or during marinade process. The scales may help protect the fish – but in the blistering ordeal of grilling over hot flames I don’t believe it matters much one way or the other. The fish are salted for half an hour – it firms them up.
I resisted adding other ingredients to the sardines, either in preparation, or as garnish – or when served. It’s true, if your sardines are very fresh, keep the cooking as as simple as possible to really appreciate how delicious sardines can be, as Mr Jarvis says, just as they are…
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