I know many of you have been just dying to know what my favourite fish is. Well, thanks for asking and the answer is sardines.
And by sardines I mean the proper ones, caught fresh from the sea, filleted and cooked on a chargrill or over hot coals with nothing more than a sprinkle of salt. There is nothing better in my view, but then I do have a habit of changing my mind depending on how much I enjoyed the LAST fish dish I ate.
But no, I stand firm. It’s sardines and by extension (literally) pilchards*.
*Oh, and maybe mackerel.
I managed to get hold of some the other week and being such a lovely evening, we got the charcoal going and put this together. I’m determined to get my wife to enjoy fennel (I’ve given up with lamb and I’m onto the next project) so keep buying it and introducing it bit by bit to dinners.
I think I really did push the boat out here though by serving the sardines with and orange and fennel salad but thankfully it went down a storm.
Orange, fennel and oily fish is such a good combination and perfect for a summers evening with a chilled white wine, or even an ice cold beer straight from the fridge. It’s what summer is all about for me. This, and despairing at sporting events of course.
- 4-6 Fresh-as-you-can-get sardines. Filleted or un-filleted, its up to you
- Oil to brush
For the salad:
- 1 Large orange
- 1 fennel bulb
- 1 red chilli
- 1 sweet pointed red pepper, roasted or not.
- 1/2 a large red onion
- Handful of chopped parsley
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Good balsamic vinegar
Start by lighting your barbecue and getting the coals nice and ashy. I use one of those chimney starters – a Godsend.
Meanwhile, get the salad ready:
You can roast the red peppers, to make them even sweeter, but I left them as they were for a bit of extra crunch.
Slice all the ingredients horizontally so that they separate into rings.
Slice the orange peel away, removing the white pith as you do so.
Arrange it neatly on a plate and do the fish…..
Brush the fish skin with oil but make sure the griddle of the barbecue is very hot – the sardines will be far less likely to stick. Grill skin side down directly over the coals. Sprinkle the top with sea salt.
Put the lid on the barbecue if you have one, to cook the fish through, it will take just a couple of minutes. Oily fish is a a bit more forgiving to being left on the heat a little too long but don’t push it. I don’t bother to flip them as it often ends in tears.
Gently lift them off the grill with a large spatula and keep warm; either on the cooler side of the barbecue or in a warm oven.
Dress the salad with the olive oil and balsamic and season with a little salt. Lay the fillets on top and sprinkle with parsley.
Now where’s that beer…..