A good, strong-flavoured green sauce (or salsa verde) is all that these smoky grilled sardines need. That, and perhaps a good squeeze of fresh lemon. For many uses, I like to add anchovies to my green sauce, but when I’m using it with sardines, I omit them because the sardines are fishy enough.
- 12 whole sardines, cleaned (see Note)
- olive oil, to brush
- lemon wedges, to serve
- 1 tbsp salted capers, rinsed, drained
- ⅓ cup loosely packed mint leaves
- ⅓ cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley
- ⅓ cup loosely packed basil
- ½ lemon, juiced, zested
- 60 ml (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make green sauce, place capers, mint, parsley, basil and zest on a chopping board and chop to form a rough paste. Place paste in a small bowl, add lemon juice and olive oil and mix to combine. You could, at a pinch, pulse this in a food processor, but I really like the fine chopped texture and bright green colour of the hand-cut version. Season with salt and pepper.
Rinse sardines and pat dry. Lightly brush with oil. Heat a chargrill until really hot. Grill sardines for 3 minutes or until they just start to brown, then turn and cook on the other side for a further 3 minutes. Serve the fish hot, with the green sauce spooned over the top and lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over.
• To prepare sardines, check if there are any scales on the fish and gently scrape with a small knife to remove. Using scissors or a small, sharp knife, cut the fins from the fish. Starting from the tail and working toward the head, make a slit along the length of the belly. Rinse under cold, running water, using your thumb to scrape the innards out from the body. Rinse well, taking care not to break the skin.
Photography Alan Benson. Food Preparation Tobi Armbruster. Styling Michelle Crawford.
As seen in Feast magazine, October 2014, Issue 36.