Grilled Sardines and Okra with Black Garlic Aioli

Black garlic, one of chef Hoss Zaré's favorite new ingredients, is fermented so it has a sweet, molasses-like flavor and it's rich with antioxidants. He blends the black garlic with mayonnaise for this dish but using roasted garlic puree blended with balsamic vinegar is equally tasty. If fresh sardines aren't available or if you're in a hurry, make this dish with good-quality canned sardines; they're already cooked so there's no need to grill them. 

Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs


  • 12 fresh sardines, butterflied

  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced

  • 1/2 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced

  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced

  • 1 celery rib, thinly sliced

  • 10 thyme sprigs

  • 1/2 cup verjus (see Note)

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1/2 tablespoon black garlic (see Note)

  • 1/2 teaspoon harissa

  • 1 bunch watercress, torn

  • 1 pound okra

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes


  1. Spread the sardines in a 9-by 13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish and cover them with the onion, fennel, carrot, celery, thyme, verjus and vinegar. Add 1/4 cup of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the lemon juice, black garlic and harissa.

  3. Line a platter with the watercress. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan and oil the grates. Remove the sardines from the marinade and grill over high heat, turning once, until cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer the sardines to a work surface and let cool slightly. Pull out the bones, then transfer the sardines to the platter.

  4. Preheat a vegetable grilling basket. In a bowl, toss the okra with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the okra in the basket over high heat, turning occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the platter. In the same bowl, toss the tomatoes with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the tomatoes in the basket, turning occasionally, just until charred, about 3 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes to the platter. Serve the sardines and vegetables with the black garlic mayonnaise.

Make Ahead

The aioli can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.


Verjus is made from underripe grape juice. It is available at specialty food shops or substitute 1 cup of green grapes pureed with 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Black garlic is available from

One Serving 340 cal, 18 gm fat, 0.9 gm sat fat, 7 gm carb, 3 gm fiber, 39 gm protein.

Serve With

Warm flatbread.

Suggested Pairing

Beer Light-bodied kölsch: Gaffel.

Wine Salty, spritzy Muscadet.

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