One of my favorite childhood memories was my after school snack. In Madrid we used to pick up fresh sardines from the fishmonger and baguettes from the local bakery. We would go home and I would watch the fresh sardines and garlic become submerged in warm olive oil. The fragrance would fill the room. As it cooked I would hover over the pot high up on a stool and I would pick away at the baguette then dip it in the oil.
When it was ready the sardine would be placed over a fresh piece of bread. The sardine was warm, plump and full of garlic infused oil. If you took a knife to it, the sardine would spread like butter over toast. It just melted. Amazing!
I recreate that recipe whenever I can. As I am not on the coast of Spain or near an amazing baker I try and find the best possible ingredients to use. I always share this with someone that swears they hate sardines because this dish will convert them.
It’s the weekend and summer is coming to a close. This dish is simple to make. Crack open a chilled bottle of Spanish Albarino, slice up some Manchego cheese, enjoy a long conversation and watch the sun set.
Enjoy and Salud!
Melting Sardines with Chili Tapas
1 Can packed sardines, whole (not fillets)*
2 Cups olive oil
2 Garlic cloves, 1 clove peeled and cut in half, 1 clove peeled and chopped finely
4 small dried chilis
1 Tsp. Red pepper flakes
4 slices of crusty fresh baked bread such as an Italian loaf
Indoor grill pan
In a small saucepan add all of the olive oil and bring to a simmer over low heat. Don’t let the oil boil. It should just be warm.
Add the clove of garlic that was sliced in half and the entire can of sardines.
Simmer for 10 minutes.
While the sardines are simmering bring the grill pan to high heat. Dip a basting brush in the oil you are using to cook the sardines and brush over each piece of bread.
Place on grill pan and heat until just beginning to crisp and you see grill marks, about 4-5 minutes.
Baste other side of bread, flip over and cook an additional 3 minutes.
Remove from pan and place on serving platter.
Carefully remove sardines from the pan, they will be very soft and can break easily.
Sprinkle with remaining clove of chopped garlic and crushed red pepper flakes.
Top each with dried chili pepper.
Note: I try and buy my sardines from specialty stores (either Spanish or Italian). If not I buy them from the “international” food section in my local major supermarket.
All recipes © Laura Dove