The first time I grilled sardines I bought the fish on the beach in Mozambique. I was on a self catering holiday with a friend in Inhambane and we sourced our seafood straight from the fishermen as they came in with their boats, and on the small market in nearby Tofu. All we had brought along was salt, pepper and olive oil, but it turned out to be quite enough. With such fresh seafood you don’t need much else.
Grilled sardines, said to be part of the colonial Portuguese culinary heritage, is a great starter or a full dinner along with rice and salad. As a starter I like to make it with a lemon and tomato salsa that is quite sour and very fresh. If you think it is too sour then just change a lemon for an orange and you get a sweeter, but still tangy, citrus salad to go with the fish. This dish turns out well using defrosted sardines too.
- 1 kg sardines, fresh or defrosted (about 9 sardines)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic
- Salt and pepper
Scale, gut and clean the fish. Sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides of the fish. Slice the garlic cloves thinly and mix with the olive oil. Pour the marinade over the fish and make sure it covers them all around, also inside the gut. Rest in the fridge for one hour. Fry the sardines in a grill pan on quite high heat for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or do the same on an outdoor grill.
For the lemon and tomato salad
- 2 lemons, cut in segments
- 2 large ripe plum tomatoes, cut lengthwise
- 20 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 large bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped
- Leftover juice from the lemons
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper
Cut the lemons in segments and put in a bowl, and squeeze any leftover juice in the lemons into the bowl too. Mix in the cut tomatoes. Sprinkle sugar on top. Add chopped parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix and let it rest in room temperature for a little while before serving.