It's no secret that fresh is best when we're talking fish, but never is it so true as with sardines. Buy the freshest you can, fillet them yourself and eat them on the day. This is one of my favourite ways of cooking sardines, and a nod to my Tunisian grandmother.
24 whole fresh sardines
4 cloves garlic
4 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 tbsp salt flakes
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 handfuls flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 green chilli, sliced, seeds in
harissa, to serve
1. To prepare your sardines, lie a sardine flat on your board and, using a sharp knife, cut off the head. Turn the sardine so that it is facing away from you lengthways, trim along the length of the sardine against the belly and remove the innards. Using the tip of your knife, gently open out the fillet to expose the backbone. Using your fingers, snap the backbone near the tail and gently peel it away from the fillet; the bones will come with it. Scrape away any remaining bones and repeat for the remaining sardines.
2. In a mortar, roughly grind the garlic, cumin, caraway, salt and pepper. Add the chopped parsley and oil and grind until you have a rough paste. Rub this mix over the sardines.
3. Grill the sardines over a medium fire in a grill pan or on the barbecue for one to two minutes each side. Add the cooked sardines to a serving platter, break up roughly with a fork, squeeze over the lemon, scatter over the green chilli and serve with harissa.
Serve with Karen Martini's no-knead sourdough loaf