Stuffed Sardines

Image of boned sardines on a pewter plate

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.

Stuffed Sardines

Image of baked sardines


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


Image of stuffed sardines ready for ovenHeat 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.

Image of baked sardines [/recipe/]

14 thoughts on “Stuffed Sardines

  1. 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. 😉

    • *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

  2. 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. 🙂

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