Neil Perry's barbecued sardines with spicy mint and cucumber salsa

Grilled sardines with a fresh salsa.
Grilled sardines with a fresh salsa. Photo: William Meppem

I love fresh sardines for their deep, delicious flavour – and this light, fresh salsa is a perfect foil to them. I like to cook the fish medium-rare to preserve a little pickiness near the bone; the flesh will be beautifully moist as a result. Consider serving with a dollop of seasoned yoghurt.


12 fresh, whole sardines

extra virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling

sea salt

freshly ground pepper

1 lemon, quartered

For the mint and cucumber salsa

2 large handfuls mint, finely shredded

1 Lebanese cucumber, cut in half, deseeded and cut into thin slices

1 red onion, finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 vine-ripened tomato, peeled, deseeded and diced

4 small red chillies, finely sliced into thin rings

juice of 1 lemon

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground pepper


1. For the salsa, combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Mix well and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

2. Heat the barbecue to hot, clean the grill bars, place the sardines on a tray and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.

3. Place the sardines on the grill and cook for about 2 minutes each side and remove.

4. Position a big spoonful of salsa in the middle of each of your four plates. Lie 3 sardines, all facing the same way, on the salsa bed. Sprinkle with sea salt and a good grind of pepper, add a lemon wedge, drizzle with olive oil and serve.