Spicy grilled sardines

    55 min

    Sardines with a crunchy nut and watercress stuffing make a simple yet healthily balanced meal when served with spicy new potatoes and a salad. Sardines are a good buy – inexpensive, quick to cook and high in beneficial fish oils and vitamins. For speed, buy ready cleaned and scaled sardines.

    10 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 750 g (1 lb 10 oz) baby new potatoes, scrubbed
    • 12 sardines, about 1.5 kg (3 lb 3 oz) in total, cleaned and scaled
    • 100 g (3½ oz) fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
    • finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
    • 45 g (1½ oz) pecan nuts, chopped
    • 75 g (2½ oz) watercress, finely chopped
    • cayenne pepper
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
    • salt and pepper
    • Leafy orange salad
    • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tbsp lemon juice
    • ¼ tsp Dijon mustard
    • 200 g (7 oz) mixed salad leaves
    • 1 orange, peeled and segmented

    Prep:30min  ›  Cook:25min  ›  Ready in:55min 

    1. Put the potatoes into a large pan, cover with boiling water and cook for about 15 minutes or until just tender. Preheat the grill to high.
    2. While the potatoes are cooking, cut the heads and any fins off the sardines with kitchen scissors. Mix the breadcrumbs with the lemon zest and half of the lemon juice. Add the pecans, watercress, and cayenne pepper and pepper to taste, and mix thoroughly. Using a teaspoon, pack the stuffing into the sardines so the cavities are well filled. Lay a piece of foil on the grill pan and arrange the sardines on top.
    3. Mix the remaining lemon juice with 1/2 tbsp of the olive oil and a couple of pinches of cayenne pepper. Brush half of this mixture over the fish. Place the sardines under the grill and cook for 5 minutes or until the flesh next to the bone will flake easily. Gently turn the sardines over, brush with the remaining lemon juice mixture and grill for a further 5 minutes or until cooked through.
    4. When the potatoes are ready, drain and cut them in half. Heat the remaining 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil in the pan in which you cooked the potatoes. Add the mustard seeds and cook over a moderate heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until the seeds begin to pop. Add the potatoes and plenty of black pepper, and toss the potatoes to coat them thoroughly with the mustard seed mixture. Keep hot until ready to serve.
    5. To prepare the salad, combine the olive oil, lemon juice and mustard in a salad bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the salad leaves and orange segments and toss gently in the dressing. Serve the sardines piping hot with the salad and potatoes.

    Some more ideas

    Walnuts can be used instead of pecan nuts. * For Mediterranean-style stuffed sardines, make the stuffing with 100 g (3½ oz) fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs, the finely grated zest of 1 lemon, 50 g (1¾ oz) mixed stoned black and green olives, roughly chopped, 1 plum tomato, finely chopped, 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook the baby new potatoes as in the main recipe, then toss with 1½ tbsp olive oil, 1 small red onion, finely chopped, and plenty of black pepper. * In the summer, these sardines are delicious cooked outdoors on a barbecue, in a special hinged fish grill.

    Plus points

    Sardines are, strictly speaking, young pilchards, but the name is often used to describe the young of other fish such as sprats and herrings. Sardines contain useful amounts of iron, which is needed for red blood formation. A deficiency of iron in the diet leads to the development of anaemia. * Pecans provide generous amounts of vitamin E and are a rich source of essential fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats. * One of the reasons that the Mediterranean diet is thought to be so healthy is because olive oil, which is a good source of monounsaturated fat, is used for cooking rather than butter and other saturated fats.

    Each serving provides

    B1, B6, B12, C, niacin, iron, selenium * folate, calcium, copper, potium, zinc * A, B2, E

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    Reviews in English (2)


    This is fairly complicated recipe to use, given the very minor change in appeal that it achieves. I used the Mediterranean style stuffing suggested, it being summer, and found that the stuffing did not really affect the flavour of the fish. The stuffing was crunchy and pleasant but in no way amazing. In addition, it did not hold together well either, so it was more a crumbly filling than a stuffing. Overall, I think I could have basted the sardines in lemon and cayenne paper and grilled them and it would have been pretty much as good. The salad did not work all that well, for me, either but was acceptable.  -  31 Jul 2015


    Easy to make and a nice change  -  27 May 2015