Sardines, Potatoes, Tomatoes and Black Olive Tapenade

We are all aware that the sustainability of the world’s fish is a big issue. For too long we have just eaten a very select proportion of the oceans fish and in doing so we have dangerously depleted the stocks. It doesn’t have to be like this though. Just by being a little more adventurous and varying the species of fish we eat we can begin to eat sustainably and protect the fish in our oceans. Though I have suggested using Sardines here you could use herring or mackerel as well. So if you wanted you could cook this dish 3 times and use a different fish on each occasion. Try to look out for the blue Marine Stewardship Council logo which will let you know that you are buying fish from sustainable sources; at the very least your Sardines should be Cornish as stocks are plentiful.

I find the easiest method for deboning sardines is too butterfly them. It is easier still if you get the fishmonger to do it for you though it is not overly difficult to do at home; it just takes a little bit of practice and can be fiddley. To butterfly the sardines, first make sure the sardines are gutted and descaled. Chop the head off, and then fan out the belly of the fish so the flesh is facing down. With your thumb push down on the backbone all the way down the fish. You should feel it pop out. Turn the fish over and grab hold of the spine from the head end and slowly pull the backbone out taking most of the other bones with it. Tidy up the sides and remove any other large bones and repeat with the remaining fish. There will be a few small bones that remain but once cooked you won’t even notice them, I promise.

Serves: 2
Cooking Time: 45minutes

400g New Potatoes
230g Tin of Chopped Tomatoes
1 Clove of Garlic
125g Water
2Tbsp. Olive Oil
90g Black Olives, stone in weight
2Tsp. capers
3 Anchovies, in oil
3-4Tsp. Oil, rapeseed or olive or nut oil
2Tsp Whisky or cognac, optional but I highly recommend it.
Large handful of parsley
6-8 Sardines or about 500-550g

Cut the potatoes into quarters or bitesize pieces and place in a saucepan. Add the tomatoes, garlic – thinly sliced, water and olive oil and a pinch of salt and a few twists of pepper. Stir and then place on a high heat and bring to a boil, once boiling reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 30-35minutes until the potatoes are soft and the sauce has reduced by about half, maybe a touch more. If the sauce reduces too quickly then put the lid on or reduce the heat.

While the potatoes are cooking make the tapenade. This is easiest if made in a mini food processor but can be done by hand. Stone the olives and place a food processor with the capers, anchovies, oil, whisky and parsley and blend for about 20 seconds until you have a rough paste. If making it by hand then roughly chop the olives, capers, and anchovies together. Transfer to a bowl and add the oil and whisky and then roughly chop the parsley and then stir through. Once made, leave to one side.

To cook the sardines. Get the grill as hot as possible. Season the fish, flesh side, with salt and pepper and then close the fish. Place on a baking tray and cook for about 2-3 minutes per side. You want to almost burn the skin, don’t worry about drying them out as long as the grill is very hot they will cook quickly and the flesh will be protected.

Once the potatoes are cooked, gently stir in the tapenade and portion onto plates with the grilled sardines on top.

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