Mediterranean Sardines & Herbed Bulgur

In my recently rediscovered love of all things whole fish I decided to give sardines a try. I mean, I’ve had sardines before but usually of the canned and packed in oil variety, but I’ve never had the actual fish in all its bony glory. So when I spotted these babies in the frozen section—not fresh but since I’ve no experience with them I figured it was good enough—I snatched’em right up.

sardines and bulgur recipes

After removing all the scales, which had me recalling Julia Roberts (slippery little suckers) I was ready to lather them in olive oil (from a jar of kalamata olives) and season them. I chopped fresh garlic, scallions and basil then threw in some dried thyme, rosemary and marjoram.

At this point things were looking pretty good. I wrapped the sardines in aluminum foil, tightly, and popped them in the oven on 200 (about 400F) until I could smell what was cooking, about 20 minutes.

Let me just say that the sardines were delicious…when I finally got to the actual meat. But holy hell getting to the meat was more tedious than liberating crabmeat from its shell! There are about a zillion teeny tiny bones in sardines, in case any of you didn’t know that. Yes, literally a zillion. I braved through the bones because the Mediterranean seasoning was absolutely delicious, but the end result was a gigantic mess and left my water bottle and wine glass smelling of sardines. Not. Fun.

The bulgur—my new favorite grain—was delicious. In the boiling water I added some vegetarian broth, a mixture of dried Italian herbs and a handful of scallions.

Here’s a little tip for those of you thinking about cooking whole sardines: do not serve them on a bed of anything you plan on eating. If you want to throw them on some fresh parsley for garnish, go right ahead. But you are asking for a world of trouble doing what I did and putting the sardines on top of the bulgur. Avoid at all cost or you’ll end up accidentally sucking down fish bones with your whole grains.

Again; not fun.

So…enjoy!

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

4 whole sardines (they aren’t too big so look at them before you decide)
1 tbsp. each dried rosemary, thyme & marjoram
2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
3 garlic cloves, rough chopped
¼ cup basil, chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup bulgur
1.5 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
2 lemon wedges (optional)

Mediterranean Sardines & Herbed Bulgur

Directions

  1. Scale, wash and dry sardines then set aside.
  2. Chop and slice herbs and scallions.
  3. Preheat oven to 200°C
  4. Place scallions on aluminum foil and rub liberally with olive oil.
  5. Season with salt and pepper on both sides, then rub with rosemary, thyme, marjoram, basil, scallions and garlic until coated.
  6. Tightly seal foil and bake 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil then add bulgur and seasoning to water and return to a boil.
  8. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 20 minutes or until water has been absorbed.
  9. Drizzle with lemon juice if desired.

Goes great with white wine. I’m in Germany so of course I went with a Riesling. 

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