It’s a funny old world. Our Cornish pilchards have undergone a re-branding of late and are often now known as Cornish sardines. Presumably this is because as a nation we’re keener to eat sardines, redolent of sunny Mediterranean holidays, than pilchards, which some of us associate with less-than-stellar canned fish (although done well, a tinned pilchard is a thing of beauty).
There’s some confusion as to the difference between the two but the UK Sea Fish Industry Authority says a sardine is a young pilchard and that’s good enough for me. They are excellent simply seasoned, rubbed with a little oil and slipped onto a barbecue but this dish is Mediterranean in inspiration. It makes a good summer lunch or supper.
I bought my sardines ready prepped and butterflied from the excellent Mummery Bros of Lowestoft. Otherwise, have a look at this video. It’s very quick and easy. Normally I use pine nuts in this recipe but I ran out, so I substituted chopped pistachios. It turned out to be a happy accident.
9-12 boned sardines
3-4 heaped tbsp soft breadcrumbs
30g pine nuts or chopped pistachios
Pinch of sugar
3 anchovies, pounded to a paste
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp finely chopped onion
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Olive oil, salt and pepper
Lemon wedges, to serve
Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 4.
Sauté the breadcrumbs in olive oil until lightly browned. Place in a bowl and add the pounded anchovies, nuts, sugar, lemon zest, chopped parsley and onion and a good grind of salt and black pepper. Mix well.
Rub a shallow baking dish with a little oil. Put some of the stuffing into the cavity of each fish. Lay them side by side in the dish in a single layer. Sprinkle any remaining stuffing on top and drizzle with olive oil.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Squeeze lots of lemon juice over them and serve, garnished with a little more parsley.
I love these things when you’re abroad in the sunshine. For some reason they don’t quite cut the mustard back home. They might with your wonderful stuffing though.
Thanks, Dave. These were spanking fresh and made a lovely supper on a hot summer’s night (yes, we did have one). 🙂 Lx
Wow! No sardine is safe in Horsham.
I’m sure they’ll have a grand fin-ale!
This dish sounds wonderful Linda. When in Italy last spring, I had sardines every way but stuffed. How did I miss this? I loved them all, just the same. I cannot get fresh sardines here, let alone prepped and butterflied. I’ve only seen them cleaned (luckily) and frozen, or, “tinned* as you would say. 🙂 ) I’m going to talk to my fishmonger the next time I see him. Maybe he has them “in the back”. Heavens knows what’s back there but whenever he goes back there for me, I leave the shop smiling. 😉
Thank you, John. Can’t beat a fresh sardine! Definitely worth investigating the fishmonger’s back room. 🙂 Lx
wow. They’re lovely.
*Bows*.Thank you! They’re so fresh and lovely they don’t need much gussying-up but this is a tried-and-tested recipe over many years. We often make it in Spain, too. Lx
I love sardines/pilchards done this way – even my picky teens like it. Been a long while since the last time, so may well have a go at your recipe – if I can get nice enough pilchards this far in land! They’re usually a bit ropey here 🙁 i wonder if the name change reflects that it’s a mild put down to call someone a pilchard?! My dad called me it (nicely) when I’d done something daft – so quite often!!
Haha, yes, you never get anyone called a silly sardine, do you? (Although I may start, now.) We’re lucky here, being close to the coast. Good luck in your search for the freshest fish. 🙂
These pilchards look delicious Linda. I’ve always liked the word pilchard. It’s almost an insult. There’s no chance of the dreaded pasty getting renamed?
I don’t think the Suffolk Pasty has yet caught on, but I suppose it’s a challenge. Cheers, Conor. 🙂
Pretty darned good, if I say so myself. 🙂 Thanks you, Nicole. Lx