Tuesday, September 7, 2010
One of the typical seafoods of the coastal Mediterranean are sardines. Usually they are either deep-fried or they're grilled. I love them both ways. In the U.S. sardines are mostly considered bait and one rarely finds them in fish stores. Sardines are abundant off the coast I live near in southern California, but they sure aren't abundant in the stores. I think I know the reason they're not popular: most southern Californians trace their heritage to the Midwest and fish cookery was never big--in fact non-existent--in their families that came from Oklahoma, Missouri, or Michigan. They passed on to their children and their grandchildren their disinterest in fish. However, you can't ignore fish when you're on a big ocean, so when they did eat fish they ate fish that didn't look like fish, namely, fish fillets or unrecognizable "white" fish. So what about those sardines? Goodness, you could see their eyes and they had bones!
Man, what they're missing. Of course, I miss the easy access to them. My local Whole Foods supermarket sells local sardines for $3.99 a pound. That's great. Down the street is the fancy-shmancy Santa Monica Seafood selling their sardines (and they are the ONLY 2 places that sell them in all of the West side of Los Angeles, population 1 million I would imagine) for $15 a pound. Yikes. I told them I could get then down the street for $3.99. They said "yeah, but these are from France." Only in a stark raving mad country like ours would someone want to pay for a first class seat on a plane for a little fish.
So you've got your sardines. Gut them, ripping out all the viscera including that in the head too. Deep-fry them in plenty of olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes. And then lay them atop of some linguine cooked with olive oil, garlic, parsley, and a dusting of cayenne. Mighty nice.
[photo: linguine with fried sardines, Clifford A. Wright]