Spanish-style sardines from Noordhoek

Noordhoek beach was teaming with sardines on Saturday morning! Sadly I was at Glencairn for a swim – on the wrong side of the 2 oceans – when I got wind of it. Luckily, I managed to persuade (or more like ‘order’) Tall Paul to get down there and catch some for lunch. This is what I made:

Baked sardines with tomato, chilli, garlic and fennel

fresh sardines
parsley, finely chopped
fennel tops, finely chopped
olive oil
sea salt and cracked black pepper

For the sauce:
olive oil, for frying
1 onion, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely diced or grated
2 red chillies, finely sliced
about 500g fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped (I used 1 small punnet of rosa and 4 whole plum tomatoes)
parsley, finely chopped
fennel tops, finely chopped

Clean and gut the sardines. (You can chop the heads off, but I prefer to keep them whole.) Score the flesh and rub in the chopped herbs. Place in a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and season. Bake in a preheated oven at 200˚C for 8-10 minutes, until cooked through.

In the meantime, make the sauce: sauté the onion in a heavy-bottomed pan until translucent, but not yet golden. Add the garlic and chilli and sauté for a few more minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and herbs. Season. Turn the heat down to low, place a lid on and leave to gently stew for about 15 minutes or until the tomatoes have ‘melted’ and formed a chunky sauce.

To serve, place the sardines on a platter or individual plates, spoon over the sauce and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with crusty bread for mopping up the juices.

For more info on this rare phenomenon, visit fellow food blogger Sam Linsell’s Drizzle and Dip.

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6 Responses to “Spanish-style sardines from Noordhoek”

  1. Sam November 21, 2011 at 6:21 am #

    Bern, I tried to cook mine as I so wanted to do a pretty blog post, but gutting them and attempting to fillet them failed. they still had so many bones. I made a nice marinade, but ran out of ‘desire’ to cook them. Yours look so lovely. I want to like them, but cant really bring myself to like the taste.

    • bern November 21, 2011 at 6:27 am #

      I think the key is to keep them whole (after gutting and cleaning, obviously) instead of filleting and deal with the bones once they’re on the plate. It’s messy business, but the freshness was unparalleled – and so worth the effort. Having said that, I am a fan of sardines though. What a fun fun day! (Hope you managed to used your marinade for something else?!)

  2. nina November 21, 2011 at 6:44 am #

    So sad to have missed the sardine run. Looking at your meal, makes my mouth water so badly. I think the idea with sardines is to have lots of sardines, lots of friends, big table, lots of wine and plenty crusty bread and napkins!

    • bern November 21, 2011 at 7:34 am #

      Hi Nina. Honoured to have you on my site. Welcome! Agree with you on all counts of your above comment. Perhaps paper towel instead of napkins!? xx

  3. Sarah B. November 28, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    Your pictures are beautiful! And this dish looks so great! Love sardines, thanks for sharing!

    • bern December 1, 2011 at 7:23 am #

      Hi Sarah. This is one of my favourite ways of eating sardines. And crusty bread for mopping up the juices an absolute must!. Thanks for the visit. Bern

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