Monday, January 14, 2008

A Sardine Dish That Looks Great but Tastes… “Interesting”

Over the holidays I saw a pic of a great looking sardine dish. And, while I was in Whole Foods the other day I saw some great looking large sardines. These were the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of Sardineifornia, not your mama’s fishies. They were a good 8’ inches long. The size scared me a little but I bought them any way. I was not convinced that my wife would chow on monster sardines, but she doesn’t cook much so faced with starvation, she chose to eat. My wife is my lab rat and critic but she only

has two reviews:

  1. “This is awesome! Write down the recipe, I want to eat this all the time.”
  2. “Interesting, are there capers in there?”

She thinks there are capers in everything, I don’t know why. Any way, this dish was a total experiment and visually

it turned out really nice but the flavors weren’t quite there. The fish was a little too tangy and, oddly enough, they tasted a lot like sardines. If I did it again I wouldn’t marinade them and I would make a richer celeriac mash (heavy cream). The dish wasn’t bad, I

wanted the fish to be light and the mash to be rich and the carrot salad to be the acid with a hint of sweet. I probably would skip the mushrooms next time. Anyway, try it if you like and get back to me with changes or improvements.

I marinated the four fish overnight in some olive oil, rice vinegar, lemon zest, Salt, Pepper and a few dried shitake mushrooms.

  • Boil water and once boiling add salt. Slice celeriac into small chunks and add to boiling water and cook until soft (like boiled potato). It cooks quicker than you think.
  • Chop up some bacon and cook it off till it’s crisp. I places the bacon bits on a paper towel to drain. I had about a teaspoon and a half of fat left in the pan.
  • Add fish to pan and let cook fully on one side, 3 minutes
  • Meanwhile, in a mixing bowel, combine salt and pepper, a little rice vinegar, good honey, some capers and dry herbs (I used this great shallot pepper from Penzey's Spices, but any herb mix will do). Fresh tarragon would be really nice also.
  • Slice a carrot thin with a mandolin or a vegetable peeler.
  • Once fish is crispy flip over and cook on other side, 2 minutes
  • I like sardines cooked all the way through so I let them go a little long.
  • Pull celeriac out of water and mash in a bowl with truffle butter (if you have it, regular butter will do otherwise), whole milk, salt and white pepper until they look like mashed potatoes
  • Pull fish out of pan and set on paper towels to drain
  • Deglaze with a small amount o f white wine add a small portion of the left over oil and wine reduction to the honey rice vinegar mixture. Add the carrot strips and toss this mixture should be just slightly sweet. The purpose of this is to cut through the rich mash and the oily fish so keep it tangy.
  • Put a small scoop of the celeriac mash in the center of a plate, Place a small pile of the carrot salad n ext to it and then lay out two fish on the plate. Garnish with lemon.

p.s. I had some shrimp that neede

d cooking, so I tossed them in th

e left over marinade, chopped up some shallots, crushed some garlic and threw in some red pepper flakes into the dirty pan and cooked the shrimp as shown. Oh, there was a little butter in there as well.

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