This is a really interesting dish. It’s like a rice pilaf pie held together by sardine fillets instead of pastry. All it requires is a little patience when assembling, but the end result is worth it! The preserved orange is made using salt and spices exactly the same way as preserved lemon and imparts a lovely sweet-salty flavour to the rice.
- 500 g sardines, filleted and scaled
- 2 kg oranges, scored into quarters without cutting all the way through
- 1 kg rock salt
- 1 kg sugar
- ½ bunch thyme
- 5 bay leaves, torn
- 5 cinnamon sticks
- 5 star anise
- 250 ml (1 cup) orange juice
- olive oil, for drizzling
- 40 g (¼ cup) pine nuts
- 2 tbsp currants
- 1 tbsp sabaht baharat (Lebanese 7 spice)
- 125 g unsalted butter
- 185 g (1 cup) par-cooked baldo rice
- 1 tbsp finely chopped dill
Herbed crème fraiche
- ½ cup parsley stalks and leaves
- ½ cup coriander stalks and leaves
- ¾ cup mint leaves
- ¾ cup dill sprigs
- 2 garlic cloves
- zest of 1 lemon
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
- 240 g (1 cup) crème fraiche
- sorrel leaves and dill flowers
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.
You will need to begin this recipe 2 weeks ahead to make the preserved oranges.
To make the preserved oranges, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, then tightly pack into sterilised jars. Seal and refrigerate for 2-3 weeks, inverting the jar on a weekly basis.
To make the rice pilaf, preheat the oven to 170°C. Heat the olive oil in a frypan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and stir until lightly coloured, then add the currants, sabaht baharat and 2 tablespoons finely chopped preserved orange. Add the butter and stir until melted, then stir through the rice and dill and combine well. Remove from the heat and cool.
Grease the base and sides of a 15 cm copper or non-stick saucepan with oil and line the base with baking paper. Arrange the sardine fillets, skin-side down and slightly overlapping, over the base and sides of the pan, leaving the sides overhanging. Fill the pan tightly with the rice pilaf, stopping about ½ cm from the top of the pan. Fold over the sardines and place a few more on top to cover. Place a sheet of baking paper on top, then place a weight on top of the paper (I used a heat-proof bowl filled with rock salt). Bake for 30 minutes, then stand to cool for a few moments before inverting onto a serving plate.
Meanwhile, to make the herbed crème fraiche, place the herbs, garlic, lemon zest and olive oil in a high powered food processor and puree until smooth. Add half the crème fraiche and process until well combined, then transfer to a bowl and fold through the remaining crème fraiche. Refrigerate until required.
To serve, top the hamsi pilaf with a quenelle of crème fraiche on top and garnish with sorrel leaves and dill flowers. Serve immediately with the remaining herbed crème fraiche passed separately.