Monday, March 3, 2014

Roasted Sardines with Herbs

Fresh-caught sardines from Monterey Bay were in the market this week so I just had to get some for a dinner. This dish is based on one I found online from Chris Cosentino (owner of the San Francisco restaurant Incanto). The published recipe uses the sardines as part of a larger dish but I extracted them out to stand alone and changed it up a bit to my own taste.

fresh garden herbs - parsley and Greek oregano

lemon zest, thin-sliced garlic cloves, and capers

sardines cleaned and seasoned prior to cooking

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3-5 large whole fresh-caught sardines (1-2 pounds), scaled and cleaned, patted dry
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Greek oregano
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lemon zest, grated
1 tablespoon lemon juice
kosher salt and black pepper to season and more at the table to taste

Pre-heat an oven to 400F.
Season the cleaned sardines with plenty of salt and black pepper. Heat a 12-inch iron skillet (or similar heavy-bottom skillet that can be used in a hot oven) over medium-high heat. When the pan begins to smoke add the oil, then place the sardines in to cook for about 3 minutes. Turn the sardines over, add in the parsley, oregano, garlic, capers, and lemon zest, then move the skillet into the heated oven. Cook for about 5 minutes then remove, sprinkling the lemon juice over. 
Serve the fish at the table in the skillet or remove to a platter.
I've found the best way to eat these is to use a fork to simply slip the meat from the skeleton, taking care to set aside the largest bones as you go.