Butterflied sardines stuffed with preserved lemon and rosemary
Serve these with a simple rocket salad dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. I always encourage buying fish from a fishmonger where possible and this is especially relevant with sardines which need to be spanking fresh. If you don’t want to butterfly the fish yourself, ask your fishmonger to do this for you; alternatively just keep the fish whole and stuff the cavity.
These recipes originally appeared in House & Garden magazine, photos courtesy of Oivind Haug.
- 24 sardines (2 fish per portion), scaled and gutted
- For the stuffing:
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 4tbsp finely chopped preserved lemon skin
- 3 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
- Sea salt and black pepper
- Use a sharp knife to cut off the heads of the fish, just below the gills. Make a deep incision running the length of the belly from the head end, all the way down to the tail. Remove any guts and open the fish like a book, then turn it over so it is skin side up. Holding the tail with one hand, slide your other hand along the length of the fish to flatten it on the board. Flip it over and starting at the head end, gently peel the backbone away from the flesh until you reach the tail. Snip it off with scissors and discard. Brush off or pick out with tweezers any stray bones. Repeat with the rest of the sardines.
- Mix together all the ingredients for the stuffing. Lay a sardine, skin side down, opened out flat on a board and spread it with 2 teaspoons of stuffing mixture. Lay a second sardine over the top and press down to create a sandwich. Repeat with the rest. Up to this point, everything can be done several hours in advance and kept in the fridge until needed.
- Preheat the to its highest setting; heat a griddle pan or best still, light a barbeque. Grill the sardine sandwiches for 2-3 minutes on each side, the skin will become charred and the cooked flesh should flake easily when prodded with a fork.