Sardines in Escabeche, Pomegranate & Toasted Almonds
This is a lovely fresh dish if you fancy a little change from the usual indulgent recipes available at this time of year. The escabeche means that the dish is still warming for those cold winter nights whilst the addition of pomegranate seeds give it a real freshness.
Sardines are an oily fish and needs a robust drink which will stand up to their meaty flavour: we suggest a cold Manzanilla sherry served straight from a freshly opened bottle!
Season the sardine fillets, patting the salt and pepper firmly into the flesh. Then dunk the fillets into the flour, making sure both sides are lightly covered.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a sauté pan. When it starts to shimmer, add the fillets and brown for about 2 minutes on each side. Set aside in a shallow gratin dish while you make the escabeche.
In a clean frying pan, add 2 more tablespoons of oil, then fry all the vegetables until soft and golden. This will take about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the herbs and peppercorns, then pour in the remainder of the oil, vinegar and white wine and let everything bubble until the alcohol has evaporated – this will take about 2 minutes. Add the water, and simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Adjust the seasoning and pour this mixture over the mackerel fillets.
Add the pomegranate and toasted almonds at the end. You can eat this immediately, or cold: it’s delicious either way.
6 whole sardines, cleaned and filleted
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g plain flour
10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small Spanish onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 large carrot, cut into batons
1 celery stick, cut into batons handful of mixed herbs, such as bay leaf, thyme and rosemary
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons dry white wine
1 pomegranate seed
40g toasted flake almonds