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Stuffed Fried Sardines
© Marcus Nilsson

Stuffed Fried Sardines

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"In the summer, there are festivals throughout Galicia to celebrate the sardine season," says Janet Mendel. "The sardines are so popular that, after everyone goes out and eats them, the bouncers at the discotheques won't let you in if you smell too fishy." The traditional Galician preparation is to simply grill the freshly caught sardines over hot coals. Instead, Mendel fills the tender fish with a sweet-salty ham-and-raisin stuffing and fries them to make a crunchy starter that loves a crisp Albariño.

  1. 2 tablespoons chopped raisins
  2. 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  3. 1 large scallion, minced
  4. 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  5. 1 tablespoon fine, dry bread crumbs
  6. 1/4 cup finely chopped serrano ham
  7. 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel or fennel pollen
  8. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  9. 16 sardines—butterflied, spines removed, heads and tails removed (optional)
  10. All-purpose flour, for dredging
  11. 2 large eggs
  12. 1 tablespoon water
  13. Extra-virgin olive oil, for frying
  1. In a small bowl, mix the raisins with the lemon juice, scallion, parsley, bread crumbs, chopped ham and ground fennel. Season with salt and pepper. Open a sardine and place a rounded teaspoon of the filling on one side of the fish. Close the sardine, pressing the halves together firmly. Repeat with the remaining sardines and filling.
  2. Spread flour in a shallow bowl. Place the eggs in another shallow bowl and beat the water into the eggs. Dredge the sardines in the flour, then dip them into the egg mixture to thoroughly coat, letting the excess drip off. Dredge the sardines again in the flour and shake off any excess.
  3. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 inch of olive oil until shimmering. Add half of the sardines and fry over moderately high heat until golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Drain the sardines briefly on paper towels and transfer to plates. Repeat with the remaining sardines.
Serve With Lemon wedges and mesclun salad.

Suggested Pairing

Citrusy Albariño.

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