I have to confess to one of my culinary fears. Fear of the fish counter. I kid you not.
Indeed, it is with a mix of fear and excitement that I approach the fish counter in the local fishmonger or supermarket. I feel all brave and think I'll see what looks good and choose something a little... out of my comfort zone. But then, just as the red mullet looks me in the eye, I hear myself saying 'a couple of salmon fillets please'. Oh the shame...
But all this has changed. Well... slightly. Deciding that I needed to put an end to this fishy nonsense, I requested (and received) a fishy cookery book for my birthday. I wanted one not only with recipes, but also one that educated me on the creatures that lurk beneath the waves. The book I received is Mitch Tonks' book which is imaginatively entitled 'Fish'. It is exactly the sort of book I'd been looking for. A page is dedicated to each fish detailing the flavour profile of the fish, its habitat, what time of year it is at its best and other such interesting facts. Not too much information - just enough. Mitch then gives two or three recipes for each one. The recipes are really varied - a mix of the classics and some more daring suggestions like the fabulous-looking mackerel tagine. The photos are inspiring and I love all the extra information of the fishing industry, including mini interviews with various fishermen. Interesting as well as useful. The only criticism I have is that there are some potentially 'important' fish missing from the book: trout and plaice to name a couple.
I 'fished' around on the internet (oh the wit!) trying to find a suitable recipe using ingredients we had to hand and knowing that these little fish could handle strong flavours. I've usually eaten them when they've been cooked on the barbecue and we were debating griddling them when I found this simple recipe from Gordon Ramsay. We adapted it slightly and were impressed with the extremely tasty results.
handful of cherry tomatoes
sprig of rosemary
clove of garlic
bread - we used baguette, Gordon used ciabatta but any crusty bread would be nice
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Scale the sardines by running them under a cold tap and rubbing slightly with your fingers. Gut sardines if desired (we did as they were rather large).
2. Put sardines and tomatoes in a roasting tin, season well with salt and pepper, drizzle over a good splodge of olive oil and then scatter rosemary on top.
3. Roast in oven for 10 minutes until sardines are cooked and skin is crisp.