This is another way to enjoy rhubarb in a savoury incarnation, its tartness and slight sourness is allowed to shine paired alongside the sardines. Charred, smoky and mustardy flavours all combine here to make this a bold dish.
- 1 tsp hot English mustard
- 1 tbsp seeded mustard
- 1 squeeze lemon juice
- 200 ml sweet red wine vinegar (see Note)
- 200 ml mild-flavoured extra virgin olive oil, plus extra, for drizzling
- 300 g red rhubarb, sliced into 5 cm pieces using a mandolin
- 10 large sardine fillets (see Note)
- handful of young chicory leaves or cavolo nero
- ¼ cup chives, cut into 2 cm batons
- river salt and white pepper
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.
Resting time 30 minutes
Serves 4 as a shared main
Place both the mustards and a nice squeeze of lemon juice in a bowl, add the red wine vinegar and mix together before whisking in the olive oil. Season and taste, you want it to have quite a strong, slightly sweet vinegar flavour. Set aside in a small, shallow dish that will be large enough to hold the rhubarb once cooked.
One of the most important parts of this dish is to make sure the rhubarb is sliced nicely. A mandolin is the best tool for the job, but do be careful. Place slices in a bowl, sprinkle with a little salt, drizzle with oil and mix to coat.
Meanwhile, preheat grill plate or a barbecue grill to high heat. You will need to cook the rhubarb in batches carefully and gently. Lay rhubarb slices on the grill, a few at a time, and cook for about 30 seconds or until lightly charred. Place rhubarb in the reserved dressing. Continue in this manner until all the rhubarb is cooked. Give it a little jiggle in the dressing so it’s all submerged and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Once the rhubarb has had enough of a moment, turn to your sardines. Give them a gentle season and preheat the grill to high. Before you start cooking the sardines, arrange the chicory leaves on a large platter. Place the sardines skin-side down on the grill and cook for 2–3 minutes or until the skin is nice and crispy and they are almost cooked through. Flip them over and cook for a further 30 seconds before transferring them onto the chicory.
Once all the sardines are cooked and plated spoon over the rhubarb and the oily juices. Sprinkle with chives to serve.
• If you want to substitute another fish, please do, however, bear in mind that this strong-flavoured garnish needs a nice, oily fish to stand up to it.
• If you can’t find sweet red vinegar simply add 1 tablespoon of caster sugar to regular red wine vinegar.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Rachael Lane. Creative concept by Lou Fay.