Whenever I reach Mediterranean shores I inevitably search out my fix of char-grilled sardines. A dish so simple in its execution, yet so delicious that I can’t go past it to the more complex methods of serving them. (They are at their best and fattest during the summer months.) Sometimes at a beach-side bar, I am lucky enough to find them cooked in the old manner as follows.
Moraga de Sardina
- Sprinkle several scaled, cleaned and gutted sardines with rock salt and skewer them, across their middles, on a long stake.
- Prop the stake up in the sand close to the glowing embers of your previously prepared wood fire, grilling alternate sides of the fish until the skin is charred.
- They make great finger food.
Here’s a version of grilled sardines with a little twist, that should convert the staunchest non-believer. If you do not have access to a barbecue, an oven grill is an acceptable second best.
(To serve 4)
8 fresh small sardines, cleaned and de-scaled
75 ml/3 fl oz olive oil
Juice of one lemon
5 ml/1 tsp ground cardamom
30 ml/2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaved parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Wash the fish under running water, making sure all the scales have been removed.
- Wash the inside of the fish as well.
- Pat dry with absorbent paper.
- In a bowl, mix together the oil, lemon juice, cardamom and chopped parsley.
- Spoon over the fish and rub in with the fingers.
- Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the fish under a preheated hot grill for about 3 minutes per side, basting with the flavoured oil.
Grill until the skin is charred and the flesh is white and flakes easily with a fork.
Remove to a warmed platter and pour the remaining oil over the fish.
Serve garnished with lemon slices.