Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Must be about time I posted to my blog...

Home-made Preserved Sardines"

This comes from Masako Sato's "Watashi no Hozon-shoku Note", a book that preserves a whole era, not just a few foods. I made it again recently, and it's so simple to make and tastes so fresh that I wondered why I'd forgotten about it.

10 smallish fresh sardines (get the ones labeled "for sashimi", and if you can get them filleted as "sanmai-oroshi" when you buy them, so much the better).

Make the following dressing and allow to cool.

Heat until the garlic sizzles:

1 clove garlic

50-75 cc olive or other vegetable oil

Allow to cool before mixing in:

50-75 cc mild vinegar (rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, mild cider vinegar)

Fresh lemon juice or lime juice

1 t coarse salt

Set aside to cool while you prepare the fish.

Scale and wash the sardines, cut off heads and tails, open and remove guts and blood along spine. Drop into a bowl of salted water as you work.

Pull off the tough outer membrane, leaving the inner skin. It's easiest to do this working from head to tail. Remove fins at this stage.

Lay opened fish skinside up on a board, and run your fingers firmly down both sides to loosen the vertebrae. Flip fish over, and pull the backbone off, working from tail to head.

Slide a knife under the fine rib bones, and cut off in one layer. Trim each fillet neatly, and line up in a bamboo or metal colander, or failing that, a plate or stainless-steel/enamel tray.

Sprinkle with the following, and leave for around half an hour:

1-2 t coarse salt

several grinds of black pepper

Bring some water to the boil, making a court-bouillon by adding:

a few peppercorns, black or white

1-3 bayleaves, to taste

several parsley stalks

at least 2 slices of lemon or a dash of vinegar

Lower the entire colander into the gently boiling water, and leave immersed for 3-4 minutes. If this is not practical, slide a fish-slice under several fillets, without separating them, and immerse the fish slice in the boiling water.

Remove the colander or fish slice when the fish are just cooked, and allow to drain. Pack neatly, head to tail, into a suitable container, layering with:

1/2 to 1 onion, in rings or coarse shreds

1/2 lemon

Parsley to taste (not too finely torn up, so that it doesn't stick to the fish but just flavors it)

Pour over the "dressing", cover with wrap or greaseproof paper and weight lightly with a plate, etc. Store with a lid in the fridge at least overnight before using.

Great with salad as a light summer meal, great on toast, and even better with a side of caponata.

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