Lucio’s sardines

Lucio’s sardines

By
From
The Sunday Night Book
Serves
4
Photographer
Patricia Niven

This recipe comes from a favourite kitchen porter I worked with at the Coach and Horses in Clerkenwell. He used to make it with fresh, scaled and gutted sardines cooked very, very slowly overnight with tomato, garlic, chilli, lemon, orange and coriander. By the morning, the sardines had disintegrated and we would smush them onto toast for our breakfast, lunch and dinner, or even just a snack because they were utterly delicious. I’ve doctored the recipe to make it quick and Sunday-night-able by using tinned sardines, which my sausage dog and I think are a very under-valued resource.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 heaped teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1 teaspoon chilli flakes
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
200ml tomato juice
1 orange, zest finely grated and juiced
1 lemon, zest finely grated and juiced
small handful flat-leaf parsley
large handful coriander
3 x 120 g tins sardines in olive oil
sea salt
4 thick slices toast of your choice, to serve

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a high heat. Add the onion, then turn the heat right down and let it cook without browning for a good 7 minutes. Once the onion is soft, add the spices and chilli flakes and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Next add the garlic and let it cook for a minute before adding the tomato juice and the orange and lemon zests. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half.
  2. While that’s happening, finely chop the parsley and coriander.
  3. Open the tins of sardines and, keeping them whole, add the sardines and half of the oil from the tins to the pan. Stir gently to coat with the onion and spice mixture, then add the citrus juices and all but a generous pinch of each of the coriander and parsley. Let this lot simmer away gently until the juices have reduced right down to a syrupy coating, about 5–7 minutes.
  4. Taste for seasoning, then spoon onto hot toast. Scatter over the remaining parsley and coriander.
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