Get Your Fish Groove On
This recipe for grilled sardines has all the complex flavors of traditional North African cuisine, yet it’s surprisingly simple. If sardines aren’t available, try using any fresh fish. I prefer small fish: anything from 5 ounces to 2 pounds is perfect. I also make this recipe once a year with a whole wild salmon—I just triple the rub/sauce elements and cut deep slashes in the fish for holding the seasonings and to help it cook evenly. Look, the world would be a better place if we all ate small fish with the heads on once a month, so go buy some mackerel, sardines, mullet, rouget, small pompano, porgies, skate, you name it…and get your fish groove on.
Grilled Sardines with Mint & Almonds
- 3/4 cup whole almonds
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup packed mint leaves
- 3 large garlic cloves
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 12 fresh sardines, small red mullet, mackerel or trout—cleaned, heads left on
- Lime wedges, for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°. On a rimmed baking sheet, spread the almonds in an even layer and toast for about 10 minutes, until golden.
In a medium bowl, stir the saffron with 2 tablespoons of hot water. Let stand for 2 minutes, then stir in the onion, raisins and half of the roasted almonds.
In a food processor, combine the cilantro, mint, garlic and crushed pepper and pulse just to combine. With the machine on, drizzle in the olive oil. Add two-thirds of the herb mixture into the onion mixture.
Using a sharp paring knife, make 3 diagonal slashes into the fish on both sides. Rub the remaining herb mixture all over the fish and into the slashes. Grill or broil the fish for about 3 minutes per side, until nicely charred and cooked through.
Spoon some of the sauce onto a serving platter, top with the grilled sardines and serve with lime wedges.