Grilled Sardines with Mint and Almonds
- TOTAL TIME:
- SERVINGS: 8 to 10
This dish has all the complex flavors of traditional North African cuisine, yet it’s surprisingly simple. If sardines aren’t available, try using any fresh fish. I prefer small fish: anything from 5 ounces to 2 pounds is perfect. I also make this recipe once a year with a whole wild salmon—I just triple the rub/sauce elements and cut deep slashes in the fish for holding the seasonings and to help it cook evenly. Look, the world would be a better place if we all ate small fish with the heads on once a month, so go buy some mackerel, sardines, mullet, rouget, small pompano, porgies, skate, you name it…and get your fish groove on. Last thought, this makes a great fish dish for Passover. From my lips to God’s ears.—Andrew Zimmern
- 3/4 cup whole almonds
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup packed mint leaves
- 3 large garlic cloves
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 12 fresh sardines, small red mullet, mackerel or trout—cleaned, heads left on
- Lime wedges, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350°. On a rimmed baking sheet, spread the almonds in an even layer and toast for about 10 minutes, until golden.
- In a medium bowl, stir the saffron with 2 tablespoons of hot water. Let stand for 2 minutes, then stir in the onion, raisins and half of the roasted almonds.
- In a food processor, combine the cilantro, mint, garlic and crushed pepper and pulse just to combine. With the machine on, drizzle in the olive oil. Add two-thirds of the herb mixture into the onion mixture.
- Using a sharp paring knife, make 3 diagonal slashes into the fish on both sides. Rub the remaining herb mixture all over the fish and into the slashes. Grill or broil the fish for about 3 minutes per side, until nicely charred and cooked through.
- Spoon some of the sauce onto a serving platter, top with the grilled sardines and serve with lime wedges.