Sunday, March 18, 2012
6 bay leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tbsp salt
4 green cardamom pods
2 garlic cloves
2 small dried red chilies
1 tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp olive oil
12 fresh sardines, cleaned inside and out
(you can ask your fishmonger to do this)
1 lemon, cut into quarters lengthwise, then
cut crosswise into triangular slices
½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat a charcoal grill, barbecue, or grill pan until white-hot. Using a pestle
and mortar, grind the bay leaves with the salt until you are left with a bright
green powder. (This bay leaf salt is delicious on its own and can be used to
season roast potatoes or grilled meats or fish.) Add the cardamom pods and
continue to grind until fine. Sift the mixture through a sieve into a bowl, and
discard any husks or pieces of stalk.
Crush the garlic, dried chilies, and allspice, again using a pestle and mortar,
and mix with the other spices in a bowl. Add the olive oil.
Pat the inside of the sardines dry with paper towels, then rub some of
the spice marinade over the inside and outside of each fish. Mix the lemon
slices with the remaining spice marinade. Season with lots of pepper. Mix in
the parsley. Stuff the sardines with the lemon and parsley mixture.
Grill the sardines for 3–4 minutes on each side or until golden brown
and crispy on both sides. With small fish such as this, it is important not
to overcook the fish—otherwise it will dry out. As the sardines are small and
the grill or pan is hot, remember that the sardines will continue cooking when
removed from the heat.
Serve these fantastic little fish hot with wedges of lemon, a selection of
salads, and lots of fresh bread. The salt, sourness, and heat of the spice
marinade and the lemon slices cut the richness of the fish.