Showing posts with label sardines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sardines. Show all posts

Friday, April 15, 2016

Pan-fried Sardines #FishFridayFoodies

Pan-fried sardines cooked quickly and simply in a drizzle of almost smoking hot olive oil, with a good sprinkling of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, are a delight to eat. You can taste the sea. 

Sardines, if you can find them fresh, are usually one of the least expensive of fish at the fish market. In fact, when we lived in Singapore, where local fish was abundant and mostly inexpensive, the markets never seemed to sell sardines. I finally started asking around to find out why because when we lived across the causeway in Malaysia, they were always available. These were the same fishing waters, right? Why would Singapore not have sardines?

What I found out is that it wasn’t worth the small price the fishermen would get for them in Singapore, so they didn’t bother bringing the sardines to market. Apparently the Malaysian fishermen, with lower living expenses, could make enough for their needs. As much as we enjoyed our year and a half in Singapore, I was thrilled when we were transferred back to Kuala Lumpur. Ah, fresh sardines again!

If you'd like to read about the first time I ever ate whole fresh sardines - not from a can - it was on a holiday in Portugal. I talk about recreating the piri piri chicken, but we've been eating the sardines ever since too. Sometimes grilled but most often pan-fried.

This month my Fish Friday Foodies group is being hosted by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla. She set us the task of cooking whole fish or seafood, head to tail or head to tentacle, whichever the case may be. It was a toss up for me between imported whole pink trout, which we have every time I see it in my local market, (Perhaps once a month. It’s not cheap so it’s a treat.) or sardines, which are always available and inexpensive. All of the sardines I cooked for this post cost me Dhs. 7.50 or only two dollars total.

Count on at least three or four pan-fried sardines per person, depending on size for a main course. Two per person as an appetizer.

1 1/2 lbs or 675g small sardines (sometimes I get six or eight, depending on size, for the two of us)
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

To serve:
Lemon or lime wedges
Chopped cilantro

Optional to serve: fresh French radishes

Use a sharp knife with a pointy tip to cut open the belly of the fish.

Gently scrape out all the stuff inside the cavity and discard.

Rinse the sardine under cool tap water to clean it out completely. Repeat until all the sardines are clean inside.

Smaller sardines won’t have any hard scales but sometimes ones that are a little larger do. Run your knife blade sideways up from the tail to the head to check. If there are a few scales, put the sardine in your sink with some cool water and scrape upwards to remove them.

Lay the cleaned sardines on some dry paper towels and allow them to drain.

Salt liberally inside and out with some sea salt and a few good grinds of black pepper.

Drizzle olive oil in your non-stick pan and heat over a medium high heat.

When the oil is quite hot, but not quite smoking, put the sardines in, alternating head to tail so they fit in the pan. If you are cooking more than will fit comfortably, fry them in batches rather than crowding the pan.

Cook for 3-4 minutes on the first side, then gently turn the sardines over to the other.

Cook for another 3-4 minutes on the other side.

Turn again for perhaps one more brief minute on the first side. For fish as small as these sardines, that’s usually long enough, with a few minutes resting time after, to be fully cooked. If you have any doubts, poke a pointy knife in just behind the head to check. The flesh should be white and no longer translucent.

Transfer the sardines to a warm platter and scatter with chopped cilantro. Arrange a few lemon or lime wedges around the platter so each person can add some juice, if he or she so chooses. The radishes are optional, but we love their spicy crunch with bites of sardine that taste freshly of the sea.


Check out all of the lovely whole fish or seafood recipes we've cooked for you today. We hope they will inspired you in the kitchen!


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Best Friend Birthday Cake

A no-bake dog chow sardine cake for the pooch in your life! Your best friend will love you even more after you make this. 

Do you have a very special friend?  Someone who is always there for you and is always delighted to see you?  You can be away from each other for five minutes, five hours or five days and the effusive greeting you get upon your return just about bowls you over?  I have a friend like that!  He is never in a bad mood, always listens to me with interest, especially when I am in the kitchen cooking, and he is never happier than when he is snuggled up next to me.  His love for me is total, unconditional and borders on adoration.  You may have guessed that I am talking about my dog.

I have to tell you, we started out rough.  He is skittish by nature and he didn’t take well to change.  We got him as a puppy in the summer of 2007 and from the very beginning, he would run behind our legs when a city bus went by our house in Houston – despite the fact that we were behind an eight-foot wooden fence, in our own yard.  

Cutest puppy ever.

After we went home to Malaysia, he stayed with my sister and her family until he was old enough for his first rabies shot and she said that when her Beagles would bark at a noise, he would run and hide.  Brave was clearly not in his vocabulary.  

Already bigger than them but not as brave. 

While he was there, my sister noticed he was lethargic and felt hot so she took him to the vet.  Thank God she did because, as it turned out, despite having had all his shots on schedule, he had Parvo.  He spent several days in the vet clinic on an IV drip until he was deemed healed enough to return home.  As you can imagine, we prayed fervently the whole time.  We were already so attached to his cuteness.  He recovered, got his rabies shot and they sent him on to us.  He was with us but a couple of months when we were transferred to Singapore.  It was a mere four-hour road trip but required 30 days in quarantine to enter the country.  We visited him every day that we were allowed but bless his little soul, he was a basket of nerves when he got out.  He is still a nervous Nellie but he is also a little sweetheart.

Today was his birthday and I made a cake for him.  He watched me, as he usually does when I am in the kitchen, but, frankly, the whole picture taking and candle lighting did try his patience.  He loved his cake and we love him.  You might want to make this no-bake "cake" for your pooch.  As if he or she doesn’t already love you enough!

1 1/2 cups or 180g dog chow of your choice (1 1/2 cups is Beso’s usual amount of dog food for each meal.  You can adapt this to your dog’s normal meal using his or her usual amount of chow and following the instructions proportionally with the hot water.  One can of sardines will probably add enough flavor no matter the amount of chow.)
1 can sardines
Your choice of dog treats for garnish

Put one cup or 125g of the dog food in a heat resistant bowl.  Pour in 1 cup or 240ml of very hot water.  Cover with cling film and allow the chow to absorb the water.

Open your can of sardines and pour out the oil and save it.  Mash the sardines with a fork.

Once the dog chow has absorbed the water and is softened, mash it with a fork.  Add in the sardines and then the half-cup of dry dog chow, to add a little crunch.  Mix thoroughly.

Line two ramekins with cling film and pour half the reserved sardine oil in each.   Fill the lined ramekins with the chow/sardine mixture and pack them tightly.

Turn them out onto a plate, one on top of the other.  Decorate using whatever dog treats you have on hand. 

 Light a candle and sing Happy Birthday to You.  

Let your most faithful friend enjoy!

Whoa! Candle finally blew out.  Let's eat!

Check out that long tongue!

Just a little alarming.  Top layer fell off!

Never mind.  Still tasty.

And, it's gone!