Serves 6 as an entrée
12 sardines, gutted (or use small herring, red mullet, baby mackerel or smelts)
about 75 g (2¾ oz/½ cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
3–4 eggs, beaten with a little salt
about 120 g (4¼ oz/2 cups) sourdough breadcrumbs
olive oil, for frying
125 g (4½ oz/½ cup) Meyer Lemon Mayonnaise (homemade mayonnaise using Meyer lemons
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
generous pinch of saffron threads, lightly roasted
Smoked Tomato Relish
4 roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
½ small red onion, peeled and finely diced
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 For the aïoli, it’s better if the mayonnaise is made a day or two ahead. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise with the garlic and saffron. Cover and refrigerate for later use.
2 For the relish, mix together the tomato, garlic, onion, paprika, lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl and add enough salt to make it sing. Cover and refrigerate for later use.
3 Preheat the oven to 100°C (200°F). Place the flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs in separate bowls. Crumb the sardines by dusting with the flour, dipping in the egg and then coating in the breadcrumbs.
4 Heat the olive oil in a wok or small frying pan to 180°C (350°F), or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns brown in 15 seconds. Fry the sardines, in batches if necessary, until the coating turns golden. Drain on paper towel and 5 5 keep warm in the oven while you fry the remaining sardines.
6 Lay two sardines on each plate (or serve them all on a platter), dollop the tomato relish over, add a spoon or so of aïoli and serve immediately.
Recipe and image from The Gourmet Farmer Goes Fishing by Matthew Evans, Nick Haddow and Ross O’Meara, published by Murdoch Books.