Grilled Sardine Fillets With Chips

IMG_6515The ironic thing about vacations are that one yearns to escape the everyday routine and replace it with a vacation routine. I want change, I want to escape computers, telephones, work-life and replace it with sea, sun, beach, family, friends and food.

When on vacation at my parents’ home in Halkidiki, the new routine is like this; wake up, have some breakfast, enjoy a coffee in the shade (it’s hot really early there), perhaps visit a neighbor or go shopping in town.IMG_7874

When it comes to 11am, it’s beach time. Every day, twice a day I walk down to the beach (in the time it takes to smoke 1 cigarette). One swim in the morning, head back home for lunch, take in the afternoon siesta and then head back to the beach for an afternoon swim and back home by early evening.IMG_7925

I’ll walk down to town, Nea Kallikratia and have a stroll, pick-up some nuts and pass the time by (passa tempo). I might grab a gyro or if meeting friends later, hold off as the evening feast at a “psarotaverna” is always welcome.IMG_7658

I might kill some time at the “Freedom Bar” in town. By day, this bar caters to those who rent chairs on the beach, want the convenience of a bar with drinks and snacks nearby and tunes pumping away.IMG_7887

By night, this bar is converted into a very “chill” type of bar. You’ll hear some mellow music, order a drink and follow the fishing boats with their trail of lights lining the sea.IMG_7933

This bar is located right on the beach. The only thing separating you from the sand are some boardwalks. The bar sets up these lights that float in the water, right in front of the bar. The scenery gets me every time.IMG_7681

All this beach talk has got me hungry! It’s time to showcase sardines again. Sardines are loved and enjoyed in all the countries that hug the Mediterranean. The smaller sardines are tastier and they can be pickled, fried, baked or grilled (my favourite).IMG_7805

Again, fresh sardines are much superior to their cousins who get canned and sit on the shelves of your supermarket. Loaded with Omega 3 fats (like salmon but without the mercury) and still affordable….the sardine is the everyman’s fish in Greece.

Today, I’m going to show you a method and a recipe that you’ll surely want to try. We’re grilling sardines but this time the heads are removed and then we gently push open the body from underneath to spread the two fillets out like a butterfly and then pull-out the spine.

What you have left is a butter-flied sardine fillet that can again be pickled, fried, baked or grilled. We’re going to grill these sardines, dress them with a simple and delicious “latholemono” (oil-lemon) sauce and garnish with some neat grape-vine leaves that are quickly fried into chips which could pass off as crispy, briny seaweed!IMG_6528

Grilled Sardine Fillets  With Chips

(serves 4)

1 kg. of fresh sardinesIMG_6520

Parsley and Oregano Latholemono Sauce

1 cup olive oil

squirt of mustard

juice of   1 lemon

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. of shredded carrot

4 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano (1/2 if dried)

2 tsp. sea salt

2 tsp. black pepper

GarnishIMG_6535

24 jarred/preserved grape-vine leaves

oil for frying

  1. Using the back (dull side of your knife), gently scrape the sardines to remove the scales. Now cut the heads off and discard. Make a slit into each belly and cut all the way down to the tail and pull the guts out.
  2. Rinse the sardines well then on a cutting board, place the fish on the board (horizontally with the belly against the board) and gently push down along the spine until you’ve flattened the fish. Now turnover and gently pull out the spine. Repeat this step until all your sardines have been butterflied and boned. Rinse the sardines once again and allow to drain and pat-dry. Reserve in a bowl.
  3. Pre-heat your gas-grill. Brush off any residue and just before grilling the sardines, wipe the grill surface with some kitchen towel that’s been treated with oil.
  4. Make your sauce but adding the olive oil, mustard, lemon juice, grated carrot, garlic, chopped parsley and oregano. Whisk to incorporate and pour half the sauce into the bowl with the sardines and gently toss to coat.
  5. Pair one fillet with another like your forming a fish sandwich (this way with the two fillets united, they will stand up to the heat of the grill and not dry out or fall apart). You want your grill to have a medium-high heat. Grilled your sardines for about 2-3 minutes per side. (You may all broil them in your oven for about 3-4 minutes per side).
  6. Transfer to a platter (or divide among the plates and drizzle with remaining sauce, some chopped fresh parsley and garnishes of lemon slices and some diced tomatoes.
  7. Quickly take your grape vine leaves out of the jar and pat dry. Heat a frying pan with about 1/2 inch of oil and when hot, fry off your grape vine leaves in batches. Fry in batches until crisp (they fry in about 20 seconds) and blot on some plate lined with paper towel. Divide and place a stack of grape vine leaf chips on to each plate.
  8. Serve with Tsipouro (anise-flavoured eau de vie) or the Ktima Pavlidis Thema White. This white wine has a blend of Assyrtiko and Sauvignon Blanc grapes – excellent with fish and seafood.

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at  http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

© 2007-2009 Peter Minakis

© 2009 – 2010,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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32 Comments for “Grilled Sardine Fillets With Chips”

says:

Mmmmmm delicious Peter! Sardines are my favourites too :D and summer time is the best time… they got that delicious fat that melts when you grill them ;D

Yeah, isn’t it exhausting to be on holidays, ha, ha… we always have that joke here :D

says:

Things I like about this post (1) your diary of how to spend a perfect day in Greece, (2) the photos of that day that left me yearning, (3) butterflied sardines (so much easier to eat), (4) the latholemono sauce and (5) identifying the garnish which piqued my curiosity.

says:

FANTASTIC! Those types of bars are so relaxing in the summer and can be stunning when there is a full moon. I would also pair the lovely sardines you made with some rose from Xinomavro.

says:

Your rambling about how you spend your days on vacation makes me want to be adopted by your family. And then those sardines – oh my goodness. so fabulous – nothing like what passes for sardines here in the states.

says:

I could easily get used to that vacation routine Peter! Gorgeous photos too! As for the sardines; I did not grow up liking them a lot (the opposite in fact) but recently I’ve come to slowly appreciate them. This does look very tasty!

says:

I could live off of these every day. Instead, there are no fresh sardines within a 100 mi radius of home and I must be content with canned. Love the recipe, thanks Peter!

Joanne

says:

Oh yes! Halkidiki is beautiful!! I’ve only been there once and would love to go again, this time with my spouse. Fresh sardines are amazing when prepared on the grill or broiled in the oven. What has me intrigued is the grape leaves that have been fried. I make kale chips baked in the oven, which closely resemble these leaves and they are delicious! I never liked dolmadakia but I can certainly get used to the idea of baked/fried grape leaves which probably come close to tasting like the Japanese nori used for sushi.

says:

I love how you documented your daily holiday routine in Halkidiki Peter! And thank you for sharing the butterflied sardines recipe and method…it makes it that little bit easier to motivate me to try them.

says:

I love the butterflied fillets, very elegant :) Thank you for being the last bastion of seafood on the internet! (I know I should too, given I live in a fishing country!)
The scenery is amazing. The whole set-up looks just like what you’d find in a resort town here :)

says:

I often cook sardine, but because they are so delicate, I have never even tried to fillet them. I think your meal is definitely a winner!!!

says:

Αυτες ειναι διακοπες !
Τι μας θυμιζεις !!!
I’ll try these sardelles !

Sunita

says:

Peter, I love your dish, it’s so elegant. I’ve never butterflied fish, need to give it a go.

And yes, thanks for sharing those pictures and moments; for once, i was nearly transported to another world; how idyllic :-)

says:

Wow, Peter, your presentation is beautiful. Nicely done, my friend.

Thanks for sharing with us a perfect day in Greece. I love the look of that seaside bar. Such a nice and peaceful place to end a hard day of vacation! LOL!

says:

Thanks for the mini, virtual vacation! I can almost feel the sand in my toes. Your sardines look fantastic. Wish I could get delicious, fresh sardines like this!

says:

I love sitting in those Greek bars by the beach – eating and drinking watching the sun go down.
Loved your diary of a typical day. I’m also really liking these grilled sardines and that sauce – double yum!

says:

That looks too good, was thinking to buy some sardines this week but not wanting the usual stuffed grape leaves vareity I make … love the recipe- thanks for sharing!

says:

Bought some fresh sardines yesterday and deciding how to cook them, the way you described how to descale and remove the spines is very useful, am going to give a go. Not my favorite job, haha, but surely will taste better if they are cleaned up. I don’t have the Greek oregano so have to adapt a bit.

says:

[…] When I ordered the lavraki off of the day’s specials…I expected the usual grilled whole fish. When my platter arrived on the table, I was wowed by the presentation and the moxy the chef displayed in grilling a whole fish boned and butterflied. I first started grilling boned fish last year, with another favourite fish of mine, sardines. […]

says:

Okay, I’m officially homesick for my adopted country. This will be the first year in six I won’t be spending my usual two months there. I will miss the food, beaches and importantly the people. Darn I might have to change my mind and go anyway… ciao