Baked Sardines with peppers, tomatoes and chorizo
- 6tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 large red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste with sea salt
- 3 tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and roughly chopped
- 1tsp hot paprika
- 1⁄2tsp freshly ground cumin
- 3 bay leaves
- 12 fresh sardine fillets
- 4 cocktail chorizo, skinned and crumbled
- 3tbsp flat-leaf parsley, 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.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan and fry the onions until they’re soft, about 8 minutes. Add the peppers and garlic and cook until just softened. Add the tomatoes, paprika, cumin and bay leaves. Cook for 8 minutes, adding a little water if the mixture begins to dry out. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and fold in the chopped parsley. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
Oil an oven dish. Sprinkle the flesh side of the fish with sea salt. Put half the fillets skin-side up in the dish and add half the tomato mixture and crumbled chorizo. Lay the rest of the fillets on top, followed by the rest of the tomato mixture, letting the silver skins show through. Spoon over the rest of the oil and cook for 15 minutes. Scatter the parsley on top and serve immediately.