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.
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.
Makes 2 servings
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)
- Scale, wash and dry sardines then set aside.
- Chop and slice herbs and scallions.
- Preheat oven to 200°C
- Place scallions on aluminum foil and rub liberally with olive oil.
- Season with salt and pepper on both sides, then rub with rosemary, thyme, marjoram, basil, scallions and garlic until coated.
- Tightly seal foil and bake 15 to 20 minutes.
- Bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil then add bulgur and seasoning to water and return to a boil.
- Reduce heat to simmer and cook 20 minutes or until water has been absorbed.
- Drizzle with lemon juice if desired.
Goes great with white wine. I’m in Germany so of course I went with a Riesling.