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Grilled Fresh Sardines with Preserved Lemon Salsa Verde

~ Thom Fox, executive chef, Acme Chophouse, San Francisco


  • For the Sardines:
  • 16 to 24 fresh sardines, scaled and gutted
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • For the Salsa Verde:
  • 1 preserved lemon, seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mint, chopped
  • 1/4 cup shallots, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon white wine or champagne vinegar
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. Combine all ingredients for salsa verde.
  2. Season the sardines with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of coarse sea salt.
  3. Heat the grill until the coals are gray and the grill is quite hot. Lay the sardines out and grill quickly on each side, about one minute or so. They should pull away from the grill easily, and the flesh should be firm to the touch when done.
  4. Remove the sardines from the grill and arrange them on a platter. Spoon salsa verde over each fish. Serve with a crisp spicy salad, such as arugula or watercress, simply dressed. A crisp white wine completes the package.

Serves 4.


If you can't find preserved lemons (available at specialty food stores), use the zest of three regular lemons. The sardines can also be cooked under the broiler or in a very hot oven.


I believe that we as chefs have a vested interest in preserving what we can for future generations of chefs and clientele. Helping to act as stewards of the earth's resources and raising our voices to that end is part of our work and responsibility.

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