Use my recipe for marinating the oily fish as a base, adding your favorite herbs or substituting scallions for the garlic. Let the fish ‘cook’ in the marinade for a few hours or overnight, or even better make it a full day in advance.
Serve on slices of crusty or toasted bread, as part of a meze spread, or take my lead and serve as main course, complementing greens, vegetables, beans or grain dishes – Sardeles Marinates is extremely versatile and easy to pair.
1 pound 3-4-inch sardines, anchovies or mackerel fillets
About 1/4 cup white wine or cider vinegar, as needed
1⁄3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced, or 3 scallions, white plus most of the green part, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or a combination of parsley, dill or chervil
3⁄4 cup good olive oil or more, as needed
Lemon slices or Sprigs of fresh parsley, or dill for serving
Line a tray with a double layer of kitchen paper. Working with one sardine at a time, under cold running water gently scale the fish with a dull knife. Cut off the head and run your finger along the belly, removing and discarding the innards.
With a knife, carefully open the fish like a book. With the tip of the knife loosen the spine and pull down to remove, together with any other bones. Cut off the spine at the base and keep the tail on. Sprinkle the deboned sardine with about 1 teaspoon of vinegar and transfer to the paper-lined tray to dry. Continue preparing the rest of the sardines, leaving them on the paper until you have cleaned them all.
Choose a glass or clay dish and make a layer of the butterflied sardines, skin side down, which covers the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with salt, drizzle with some lemon and a little vinegar, scatter some garlic and parsley, or any herbs you choose, and then make more layers, always skin-side down. Repeat the process – sprinkle salt, lemon-vinegar, garlic and herbs over each layer until you have arranged all the fish. Top with enough olive oil to cover the fish by about 1/4 inch, pressing lightly with your hand to make sure all the fish are immersed in oil and that there are no air pockets.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours and up to 7 days.
To serve, carefully remove as many sardines as you need. Fold each sardine to ‘close’ and ‘reconstruct’ the fish, if you like, or place them nicely skin-side up. Arrange on a small dish, drizzle with olive oil and decorate with lemon slices or herbs.
You can also serve the butterflied sardines on slices of toasted bread, skin-side up, sprinkling with chopped herbs, if you like.