- 10-12 sardines
- 2 small carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally
- 100ml fruity white wine
- 200g pink onions, Roscoff or Bombay, halved and sliced
- 3 sticks celery, with leaves, chopped
- 1 sprig thyme
- 4 bay leaves
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1tbsp olive oil
- 1⁄2tsp caster sugar
- 5 small whole chillies
For the dressing
- 50ml white balsamic or white wine vinegar
- 50ml extra virgin olive oil
- 10g flat-leaf parsley, leaves removed and chopped
To prepare sardines:
In cold water, rub off any stray scales from the fish (they tend to shed scales when they are caught so there shouldn’t be many left). Using a pair of scissors, cut off the head and all the fins (except the tail) and snip open the belly as far as possible to the tail end. Clean out the guts with kitchen paper, rinse the fish then pat dry. Sit the fish on a board with the belly downwards and press firmly along the backbone with the heel of your thumb from the opposite end to the tail. Keep pressing until you feel the bone loosening. Turn the fish over and you will see all the side bones have also come away with the backbone. Gently ease it out towards the tail end without breaking the bone or the flesh. When you reach the tail, snip it out with scissors, leaving the tail in place. Neaten the belly up with the scissors and place on a plate until ready to cook
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/ Gas 4. Sprinkle some sea salt over the flesh of the fish. Lightly oil an oven dish and place the sardines skin-side up and leave in a cool place. Mix the vinegar and extra virgin olive oil and put aside.
Put the carrots in a saucepan with the wine and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Add the onions, celery, thyme, bay leaves, garlic, oil, sugar and chilli and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour over the fish and bake for 3 minutes.
Cool completely and add the dressing and parsley leaves. Place in the fridge for 24 hours. Serve with some of the pickling bits and extra parsley leaves.
Recipe credit: Photography and prop styling: Angela Dukes, recipes and food styling: Linda Tubby