Cookbook Profile

Marinated Fresh Monterey Sardines

Serves 4 to 6

 Marinated Fresh Monterey Sardines


When I was growing up, Nepenthe served sardine sandwiches made with imported canned sardines, a luxury item then, on thin slices of black bread with mayonnaise and leafy, green lettuce, along with a wedge of lemon and a thick slice of purple onion. I remember sneaking the sardine tins from the dry storage, peeling back the shiny lids with a church key, and then fingering out the oily fish, eating the delicate fillets with saltine crackers. Nepenthe's sardine sandwich had a cult following but drifted off the menu in the early '70s.

Monterey was once known for its canned sardine industry and the health of its fishery, before it went under in the late 1950s. Today, Pacific sardine stocks are flourishing again, and the small, oily fish are making a comeback on the culinary scene. I like to purchase fresh whole sardines and marinate them with a touch of citrus and garlic, like ceviche. Layer slices on toasted baguette or German-style bread with a little Garlic Basil Aioli (page 276 of the book) or mayonnaise, then top with a few leaves of arugula or mâche and a thin slice of lemon for a dressed-up version of how we served it at Nepenthe long ago.

Place the sardines in a nonreactive shallow dish with the garlic and lemon slices. Stem the thyme and scatter over the fish with the parsley. Cover with the oil. Grind some fresh pepper over the top and drizzle with the vinegar. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day, occasionally turning the sardines over so that they marinate evenly.


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This page created April 2010