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When most people think of sardines they envision the classic canned sardine, which is unfortunate since fresh sardines are absolutely delicious. Canned sardines from the United States and Canada are actually Atlantic herring from Norway also known as the sprat. The classic American canning sardine, which is pacific or California sardine, seems to be nearly extinct, perhaps not surprising since it was canned at the rate of around a billion pounds a year in the late 1930s.

None of these is the fresh sardine that shows up in our markets from time to time. Which is good, because the fish that is commonly sold fresh- Atlantic or Spanish sardine-is the best for cooking fresh, and especially for broiling and grilling.

Like all oily fish, sardines should be iced immediately after catch and eaten as soon as possible.

Marinated Sardine with Endive

  • 24 sardines
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh lemon juice or sherry vinegar as needed
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Endive leaves, rinsed and dried

Place the sardines in a shallow bowl, sprinkle with salt and olive oil, then add enough lemon juice to barely cover them; add the garlic. Refrigerate for a day or so, gently stirring occasionally. The fish are done when they have turned white, and will keep for several days after that. When ready to serve, lay a fillet on an endive leak and sprinkle a little marinade o n each. Yields 4-6 servings

Stuffed Sardines Sicilian Style

  • 2 pounds sardines
  • ½ cup unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (parsley, dill, chives, basil, sage
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or a ½ teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons raisins
  • Olive oil as needed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

Mix together the bread crumbs, cheese, herbs, garlic, salt, pepper, pine nuts, and raisins. Moisten with olive oil until the mixture is fairly smooth. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and brush the bottom of a baking pan with a little olive oil. Put a bit of the stuffing into the body cavity of each sardine and fold them along their backs to enclose the stuffing; lay them, side by side, in the baking pan. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and drizzle with a little more olive oil and lemon juice. Bake until cooked through and tender, about 15 minutes. Garnish with parsley. Yields 4 servings

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