Smarter Living: Recipes

sardines

Photo: Katie Stoops

Are you a seafood fiend, but getting tired of the typical salmon fillet on rice that you whip up every now and then? Here’s a fresh, delicious recipe that will broaden your seafood horizons and add a whole new level of flavor to your dishes, thanks to chef and conservationist, Barton Seaver. Check out his new cookbook For Cod & Country for more tasty and fun seafood dishes for your home.

Whole sardines are delicious and easy to cook. They require a little work at the table, but so does lobster, and you don’t hear many people complaining about that! This works best as an appetizer but can easily by make into an entrée portion or a light lunch. It’s best served with a salad of peppery greens such as young mustard, radish, or turnip greens and arugula.

Ingredients:

  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 3½ Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup white wine
  • ¼ cup currants or raisins, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Leaves from 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Salt
  • 8 sardines, brined
  • ½ Tbsp canola oil

Method:

  1. Brining seafood is commonly only done in the preservation of fillets, but it can also preserve moisture and enhance the flavor of fish that you’re about to prepare. For four 5-ounce fillets mix 2 cups of cold water, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of sugar in a bowl and stir until completely dissolved. Pour over seafood, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes (see sidebar chart). After brining, remove the seafood from the brine and pat dry before proceeding with the rest of the recipe.
  2. It’s best to toast nuts, either dry in the oven or submerged in oil and cooked slowly on the stovetop. Both methods develop an incredible depth of flavor in the nuts. To toast nuts in the oven, scatter them evenly on a baking sheet large enough to hold them in a single layer. Bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for 5 to 8 minutes, depending on their size. The nuts should develop a sweet and potent aroma. They do not necessarily need to change color; all you are trying to do is to enliven the natural oils within. (Only dry toast what you are going to use in the next couple of days, as the nuts go rancid much more quickly once they’re cooked.) For the stovetop method, use olive oil, and cook a few cups worth—the oil will take on the flavor of the nut and is a great medium for sautéing fresh vegetables (nuts will keep, refrigerated, for several weeks).
  3. For the sauce, sauté the shallot in ½ tablespoon of butter over medium heat. When it is translucent, add the wine and currants and simmer until the wine is reduced to about 1 tablespoon. Remove from the heat, cut the remaining butter into small cubes and add them one at a time, swirling each in the pan until it is incorporated. Once they have all been added, you should have a thick, creamy sauce. Stir in the pine nuts and parsley. Season with a little salt.
  4. Preheat the broiler.
  5. For the sardines, gently scale the fish by running your finger from the tail toward the head. Do this under running water so the scales wash away. Using a paring knife, gently cut through the belly cavity and use the back-side of the knife to scrap out the innards. Wash the cavity under running water. Pat the fish dry, then brush with the canola oil. Place the fish in a large baking dish in a single layer and season with salt. Broil for about 3 minutes. Flip the fish and broil the other side for 5 minutes.
  6. Turn the fish onto a serving plate. Spoon the sauce over the sardines and serve immediately. Serves 4 as a first course or light entrée.

    Images and recipes reprinted with permission from For Cod & Country © 2011 by Barton Seaver, Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

last revised 4/27/2011

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