Fried Sardines with Bacon and Shiso
- SERVINGS: 4 FIRST-COURSE SERVINGS
Lemony-flavored sansho is ground Szechwan peppercorns. Shiso is a Japanese herb with a slightly sweet and peppery flavor.
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus more for dredging
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon arrowroot or rice flour
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 teaspoon sansho (Japanese pepper) or freshly ground white pepper
- Salt and freshly ground white pepper
- 6 fresh sardines ( 1/2 pound each), filleted, or four 6-ounce mackerel fillets, cut into 4-by-2-inch strips
- 6 slices of bacon, halved crosswise
- 6 shiso leaves, halved lengthwise, or 12 basil leaves
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil or vegetable oil, plus more for frying
- 2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 4 Belgian endives, cored and cut into long thin strips
- In a bowl, beat the eggs with the all-purpose flour and arrowroot. Mix in the water just until blended; do not overmix. Let stand for 30 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the sansho with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of white pepper.
- Set the sardine fillets, skin side down, on a work surface and season with salt and white pepper. Top each fillet with a half slice of bacon and a shiso leaf half. Roll up the fillets, starting at the wider end; secure each roll with a toothpick.
- In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice and zest with 1/4 cup of the grapeseed oil. Season with salt and white pepper. Add the apples, toss to coat and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 300°. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 inches of grapeseed oil to 350° or until a bread cube turns golden in 1 minute. Dredge each sardine roll in flour and shake off the excess. Dip 4 of the rolls in the batter and fry until golden brown and crisp all over, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a rack set over a large baking sheet to drain. Keep warm in the oven while you dredge and fry the remaining rolls.
- Add the endives to the apple salad and toss well. Arrange the salad on 4 plates and set 3 sardine rolls beside each salad. Dust with the sansho mixture and serve.
An Australian or French Rosé has the right balance of flavor and body to complement the bacon-filled sardines.