Sunday, February 13, 2011


Yuck, right? Smelly, fishy, boney... a fish to avoid. Those were my exact thoughts, right up until I ate one. My first time was at the Harrison bar, where I was enjoying a drink and chatting it up with the bartender and naturally the conversation turned to food. He suggested the sardines and I'm sure I twisted my face in disgust. He persisted and I gave in. Simply prepared, they were coated in breadcrumbs, some spices and herbs and then broiled until crisp and brown. The flesh of the fish just flaking off until there was nothing but a perfect skeleton left. He then suggested I try the head and that's where I drew the line, but ever since it's been love.

They were on the menu at The Majestic, where a year ago ago I celebrated my re-entrance into the working world and where just a few days ago we returned to celebrate my anniversary, and both times I ordered the sardines. I prefer the way chef Shannon Overmiller does them better than Amanda Freitag's (see, now I'm a sardine snob!). Again simply roasted but also with some capers and cherry tomato's, topped with breadcrumbs, olive oil and lemon drizzled over. And it put an idea in my head. To make you'd simply need an oven, some breadcrumbs, some herbs, optional accompaniments and of course sardines, right?

Also good to know, sardines are actually very good for you; they're rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low on the food chain, so they contain very little mercury. They also have high amounts of calcium, vitamin D, B12 and protein. I get them at Whole Foods, and just ask the fishmonger (or guy behind the counter) to gut, clean and scale them- which they'll usually offer to do without you asking anyways- so the smelly mess is done for you.

Broiled Sardines
4 sardines- I get 2 per person depending on the size
2/3 c. breadcrumbs
6-8 cherry tomatoes, slightly punctured
2 Tbl. capers, drained
Chopped fresh or dried herbs- oregano, thyme
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 Tbl olive oil
1/2 lemon
1. Set oven to broil. Double check that sardines are completely gutted and all scales are removed, place in pan. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over and put the tomatoes, capers, herbs and garlic around the fish. Drizzle the olive oil over. Broil for 4 to 5 minutes, then check the sardines; they’re ready when they’re opaque, the tip of a knife flakes the thickest part easily, and the outside is nicely browned. Top with freshly squeezed lemon and serve immediately.
So delicious! If you ever make it down to Alexandria, VA, check out The Majestic in Old Town

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