As with any fish, freshness is key. Look at them carefully: their eyes should look bright, their skin shiny, and they should look slightly oily – rather like petrol in a puddle – but not slimy. Sardines are such a simple treat that it is a shame to detract from their sweet flavour with anything too elaborate, so a simple squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper is all that’s required.
- Method :
- Your fishmonger will prepare the sardines for you, if you ask. Otherwise, it’s quite a simple job: check to see whether any scales have been left, and if so just scrape the blade of a sharp knife from the tail to the head to remove them; if they need cleaning, slice from under the head to ⅔ of the way to the tail, remove the innards, and rinse under cold water. You may wish to remove the heads, it’s all a matter of preference.
- Ensure that the sardines are relatively dry (especially if you have just rinsed them), and place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and place under a hot grill. Grill for 2-3 minutes on either side, depending on the size of the sardines.
- When cooked, squeeze over a little lemon juice, season again, and serve.