Recipe video above. Here's the perfect recipe for the sardine-shy: coat filleted sardines with an assertive Italian crust then pan fry until crispy. It's an explosion of flavour and texture cooked in 2 1/2 minutes flat, making it one of the fastest fish recipes around!Excellent recipe for the sardine wary or first timers - no bones to worry about, and the intense Italian flavours balance out any concerns about the fishy flavour of sardines.Serve on crostini with a fresh salad on the side.
Cuisine: Italian, Western
Keyword: sardines recipe
8butterflied sardines(20g each = 160g total, Note 1)
Mix Crust: Mix the Italian Crust ingredients in a bowl. Spread on a small plate.
Mix Topping: Mix the Topping together in another small bowl.
Prepare sardines: Pat sardines dry with paper towel. Sprinkle both sides of each sardine with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle the skin side only with the paprika.
Crust flesh side: Press flesh side only firmly into the breadcrumbs - it won't completely cover, that's what we want (Note 6). Place on plate, breadcrumb side up. Repeat with remaining sardines.
Pan fry sardines: Heat oil in a large non stick skillet over medium high heat. Place sardines in, skin side down. Cook for 60 seconds, then carefully turn. Cook the crust side for 90 seconds or until golden and crispy.
Topping & oil drizzle: Remove sardines onto plate, crust side up. Sprinkle with Topping. Pour remaining hot oil over sardines - enjoy the sizzle!
Serve immediately! Ideal served with crostini for the ultimate sardines on toast. See in post for side salad pairings.
1. Sardines - For ease of use, quick cooking and to avoid the question of whether to eat or not to eat the bones (I eat them!), I've opted for sardine fillets here ie. butterflied open, bones removed. They are sold in packets at fish stores and at Harris Farms here in Sydney.Size - Sardines differ in size, I've used small ones. If you have larger, just use less sardines.Other fish that can be used for this recipe as written include - bream, flounder, herring, blue mackerel, river trout. They need to be fairly thin fish with a flat surface suitable for the crust to adhere. Use your judgement for quantity - enough for 2 people. Also the cook time will need to be adjusted for the thickness of the fillet you use.Whole fresh sardines suggestion - Make sure they are gutted and cleaned. Cut the head off if you want, I don't. Sprinkle skin and inside cavity with salt and pepper. Line them up on a paper lined tray so they are just touching each other then sprinkle with plenty of the crumb (completely cover) and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 220°C/430°F (200°C fan) for 15 minutes (larger ones may need longer).Canned sardines - Though the recipe is not designed for canned sardines, here's a suggestion for how to do so: drain sardines then half them horizontally as best you can and line them up next to each (they will break but that's to be expected, we are just aiming for more surface area here). Sprinkle the entire surface generously with the crumb mixture, then drizzle with olive oil. Pop it under a grill/broiler for a few minutes until the crumb starts to go golden (it won't brown evenly, sadly) then scoop it up with a spatula and place on grilled bread. Best sardines on toast ever!2. Panko breadcrumbs – Japanese breadcrumb favoured for the extra-crispy coating it gives crumbed foods. You can buy at most big supermarkets (Coles, Woolworths) in the Asian foods section and good grocers. Substitute with regular breadcrumbs if you can’t find it.3. Pine nuts - An idea swiped from Italian sardine dishes, because it just works so well with sardines.To toast - Preheat a small skillet with no oil over medium heat. Add pine nuts and cook, shaking the pan regularly, until it's kissed with golden and it smells nutty. Remove from skillet immediately, let cool slightly then finely chop.Substitute with - almonds, macadamias or pecans.4. Anchovies - Adds depth of flavour and salt (but so much more flavour than just plain salt!). Does not make the crumb taste fishy, it just adds great savoury flavour. Substitute with 3/4 teaspoon of anchovy paste.5. Capers – Can substitute with finely chopped gherkins or even green olives, for a similar flavour effect.6. Crust - Sardines are pretty small and thin, so we don't want to overwhelm with too much crust. Whatever adheres by pressing the sardines into the breadcrumbs is all we need (without oil or egg + flour for dredging).7. Nutrition per serving, assuming all the oil is consumed. I thoroughly encourage you to mop the plate clean with bread!