Is It Summer Yet?

This is the beach where I swim each day when I’m vacationing in Greece. Sandy beaches, bath-warm water and the tranquility I feel when I’m near or in the sea.

After the bathers retire to their homes for the evening, another entire different pilgrimage to the waters occurs. It’s that of the fishermen.

They will fish all night, catching what seafood they can to feed our appetites with the bounty of the sea.

For most Greeks, fresh fish and seafood has become quite expensive as demand has risen for seafood, the oceans and seas are slowly being over-fished and Greece’s tourism adds further pressure to higher prices.

The affordable and popular choice among Greeks is Gavros (anchovy), Marida and Sardines.

Most of us here in North America are only familiar with the canned variety…not so tempting. The fresh sardine, fried or grilled (my preference) is hard to beat.

The sardine has a as much (if not more) Omega 3 fats than salmon and because they are lower on the food chain of the sea, minimal exposure to Mercury.

Last year when I was in Greece, a kilo of sardines sold for about 5 Euros…enough to feed four. If you’re lucky to find some fresh sardines at your fish monger, take them and grill them. You’ll have one of the best seafood experiences in your life.

Grilled Sardines (Σαρδελες σχαρας)

1 kg. fresh sardines
coarse sea salt
fresh ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
dried Greek oregano

  1. To gut a whole head-on sardine, pinch the gills on both sides at the base of the head and pull them out. Often the innards will pull out at the same time. If not, slit open the underneath and scoop them out from under the belly cavity.
  2. Rinse your sardines in & out with cold water while rubbing to remove the scales. To remove the head, snap it back, breaking the spine and pull it off.
  3. Pat dry your sardines and get your grill fired up (high heat). Brush your grill well so that there’s no residue from your previous grilled items. Wipe the grill with some vegetable oil to lubricate it.
  4. Drizzle your sardines with some sunflower oil (olive oil will burn) and then season with salt and pepper.
  5. Grill your sardines on high heat for 2 minutes a side.
  6. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, squeeze of fresh lemon and dried Greek Oregano.
  7. Serve with Ouzo, Vlita, a salad and some bread.

© 2008,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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41 Comments for “Is It Summer Yet?”

glamah16

says:

The first time I had sardines like this was in hoi polloi Italian Restaurant in Chicago (Spiaggia). Everyone(heathens) teased me about my expensive appetizer because they associated it with fish in can. Needless to say it was very good.Now the question is where to find them fresh?

Bellini Valli

says:

I have never been a fan of sardines from a tin…but when I was on Kea, Aglaia made some raw marinated sardines that would convert anyone…so GOOD:D But you need fresh sardines for sure.

White On Rice Couple

says:

Sardines are huge favorite in my family, especially with my mom. She eats it in sandwiches, with rice, in soup and salads. Goodness, your’s look so extra fresh and delicious. The grilled lemons looks extra good!

Emiline

says:

Well, I would definitely try fresh sardines if I had the chance.

The pictures of the beach are lovely. I could swim all day there.

Jen of A2eatwrite

says:

I love grilled sardines. I even like the canned variety, but packed in water, not oil.

Peter G

says:

Nothing beats fresh seafood. Admittedly, I used to hate sardines because of the “canned” experience. Now, I love them freshly prepared, like you have.

Astra Libris

says:

Absolutely gorgeous! Very few things can top grilled fish, and yours look positively stunning… Thank you for introducing me to grilled sardines – I shall keep a look out for fresh ones now! They’re such a good source of calcium, too…

Sam Sotiropoulos

says:

Superlicious Peter! When they are available, I love fresh sardines! Though they are pretty tasty fried too… ;-)

Allen

says:

I haven’t had fresh sardines before but I just found out we might be headed to Greece in late June, so maybe I’ll have them there! Joe has a conference in Athens and I’m hoping to tag along. :-)

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

I have only seen canned or frozen ones around here, but maybe I was not looking hard enough. Your meal inspires me to do just that.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

I have only seen canned or frozen ones around here, but maybe I was not looking hard enough. Your meal inspires me to do just that.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

I have only seen canned or frozen ones around here, but maybe I was not looking hard enough. Your meal inspires me to do just that.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

I have only seen canned or frozen ones around here, but maybe I was not looking hard enough. Your meal inspires me to do just that.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

I have only seen canned or frozen ones around here, but maybe I was not looking hard enough. Your meal inspires me to do just that.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

I have only seen canned or frozen ones around here, but maybe I was not looking hard enough. Your meal inspires me to do just that.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

I have only seen canned or frozen ones around here, but maybe I was not looking hard enough. Your meal inspires me to do just that.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

I have only seen canned or frozen ones around here, but maybe I was not looking hard enough. Your meal inspires me to do just that.

Nina's Kitchen (Nina Timm)

says:

I have only seen canned or frozen ones around here, but maybe I was not looking hard enough. Your meal inspires me to do just that.

Peter M

says:

Glam, you chose right…sardines are the top-fish in my books.

Val, I’ve cured Gavros to the same delight.

Hmmm Lori, I must witness your Q-ing skills before accepting.

Culinog, mom’s know best!

White Rice Duo, many things can be made with the versatile sardine.

Emi, I’m such a beach bum in Greece.

Jen, they make for a great appetizer.

Pete, we’ve come full circle with our tastes for food eh?

Astra, your very welcome.

Sam, fried are good too but I’m partial to fried Gavro.

Allen….GO GO GO…you’ll have lots of fun.

Nina, I hope you can find them…supply here is spotty.

Mochachocolata Rita

says:

i used to be fed canned sardines in tomato sauce when i was young…i love it still hehehe…but these fresh ones look heavenly!

in hong kong, we eat sardines when we go to macau and eat grilled sardines portuguese way :)

Pixie

says:

it’s pouring down with rain again here- that’s england for ya :)

if i come across some fresh sardines i shall buy it immediately and attempt making a dish for it

Sylvie

says:

Peter, I don’t mind tinned Sardines, but You’re right you just can’t compare them to fresh Sardines.

Cakelaw

says:

What a stunning beach – I wish we were heading into summer intstead of winter! This simple fishy treat sounds delightful – I have to confess to only having tried canned sardines.

Leigh

says:

peter – this brings all my greek holiday memories coming back -we love greece and have been for the last three holidays in a row! one of our favrourite things are the grilled fish, and the little fried whitebait – glass of wine, some alioli … heaven. great blog, i’ll be coming back. You simply cannot beat the simple food and Greece is one of the best places for simplicity.

Laurie Constantino

says:

In the village, the fishes you list are pretty much everyone’s favorite. They may be bony, but they have so much flavor. When i serve grilled sardines, I marinate the leftovers with a little oil, vinegar, and rosemary and they make wonderful meze. Counting the days until August…

Maria V

says:

fresh sardines are our most frequent summer fish meal – i have also made pastes: put them in vinegar for a day or two, then a mixture of oil and vinegar with a little salt – they keep as long as you don’t eat them…

winedeb

says:

We only can get fresh sardines down here at certain times of the year, but when we do, I am in line at the fish counter! Fixed like you have on the grill with lemon and oregano cannot be beat!

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

says:

Grilled anchovies. Grilled sardines. Wood smoke. Salt. Lemon. Cold lager beer or crisp Assyrtiko. Heaven.

Peter M

says:

Mocha, the Portuguese love their seafood too…i like them!

Pixie, I’m sure some Mediterranean sardines make it your way.

Sylvie, the fresh ones are a whole new experience.

Cake, if you see fresh ones…try them out…a fabulous tasting fish.

Leigh, you either ate Maritha or Gavros, what we here know as Anchovy…again fabulous when French.

Laurie, sardines are to be eaten with the hands and as for gavros…the spine is so soft…I eat them like french fries!

Maria, I make a “pasto gavro”…I’ll revitalize the post soon.

Deb, it’s still great news that you get sardines…you’ll be hooked (no pun intended).

Hank, you Greek-boozin’ machine..I have to get you some Tsipouro (greek moonshine).

Kevin

says:

I still need to try sardines. Those pictures of Greece look amazing. I hope to see it one day.

Núria

says:

Chico, this is one of my favourite dishes!!! I would have them with a green sauce (parsley/garlic/olive oil) or with some roasted peppers and aubergines over pa amb tomaquet! Nothing compares to that flavour :D. So good ♪ so good ♫ … I got a you ♫(or something like that… never understood that part of the song).
Being on diet makes me a bit dizzy and I start saying stupid things, lol!

aforkfulofspaghetti

says:

Mmmm… grilled fresh sardines… Could anything be more perfect, more simple? A real gift of the sea.

Ruth Elkin

says:

You’ve just sparked all sorts of memories of mediterranean holidays about 10-12 years ago when my dad discovered grilled sardines… and as soon as he did we spent most of the rest of the holiday in that restaurant or looking for other restaurants with grilled sardines. Good times! I didn’t try them myself, I’m not a big fan of fish, but I may just be tempted someday.

We Are Never Full

says:

we’ll be doing these almost exactly sometime soon too! in fact, prob. with spanish mackrel since we just bought some. there’s nothing more perfect than a grill fish. but it’s all about the fire. it just doesn’t work on an inside grill and not even on a gas grill. the best is on a wood fire or a charcoal grill second. YUMMMMMm. seeing that beach is depressing me… but summer really is right around the corner!

Zen Chef

says:

Oh this is a beauty!
I can’t wait for summer to grill myself some sardines. Outdoor only of course, just can’t do it in an apartment. hehe

kittie

says:

Oh memories! The first time I ate sardines was exactly like this – we were invited out to lunch when on holiday in Portugal – but only if the boats got a good catch! Luckily they did, and we feasted for about 4 hours on grilled sardines, with nothing but olive oil, lemons, and ice cold beer on the side… Though being only 10 at the time, I was only allowed a sip of beer!

Still the best sardines I’ve ever had…

Lori Lynn

says:

I can so imagine eating this meal al fresco on a hot summer day. You paint great food images.