Those of you who read my last post attentively, and can do very basic maths, will have noted that our meal of pasta con le sarde left us with 3 sardines (or, possibly, ‘aloha’ – Alohas? Alohi?). These were fresh enough, and pretty enough that I really wanted to keep them in as near to their natural state as possible, so I decided not to cook them, but to just lightly cure them. I simply filleted them, and marinaded the fillets, for a day, in the juice of one orange and one lemon, with the zest of each, some finely sliced red onion, a fresh bayleaf and a handful of torn parsley leaves (coriander would work well, if you have it), a sprinkling of mustard and fennel seeds, a few peppercorns a little salt and a glug of olive oil.
Come the evening, I boiled up some new potatoes and made a warm salad of the fish, potato, chicory, celery and capers, with the onion from the marinade. I shook the orange and lemon juice from the marinade up with some olive oil to make a dressing and poured it over. It was a delicious and, I have to say, rather beautiful dish.
Because, as I’ve said, this fish was so very fresh and pretty, and because the fillets were, if big by sardine standards, still small, I chose to cold marinade on this occasion, so the fish was only lightly cured, even after a whole day in citrus juice. If you prefer your cured fish to a bit more ‘cooked’, and a bit less sushi-y, you can either up the acidity of the marinade with wine or sherry vinegar, or simply put your marinade together in a pan, heat it up and pour it over the fish hot – as in my previously written up version – done then with herring but equally applicable to sardines, mackerel, sea bass – whatever firm fleshed fish looks freshest on the fishmonger’s slab, really.