While my childhood was filled with a kaleidoscope of inspired deliciousness, there are a few dishes that still haunt me. Sardines
are were one of them. Too often, did my parents prepare a humble Vietnamese sandwich topping made of tinned sardines in tomato sauce, spruced up with onion and chilli. Normally eaten for breakfast or lunch, the sardines were always too rich, too fishy, or had too many prickly little bones. Sometimes we’d have this with regular white toast, and other times, in a banh mi bread roll. A few drops of Maggie Seasoning sauce and some fresh coriander added an extra dimension, but I’ve just never been a fan of it.
So basically, I’ve been avoiding sardines for quite some time.
I was hesitant when I found out that one of the recipes I’d be cooking with Luke Nguyen at a recent masterclass featured sardines as a main ingredient. However, always open to new experiences, I proceeded to watch Luke meticulously prepare the stuffing mixture of rice, garlic, shallot, almonds, coriander, lime rind, chilli and breadcrumbs. Six fresh sardines were boned and butterflied. Instead of being brazenly pungent, the sardines were somewhat intriguingly delicate.
Luke Nguyen’s France starts tomorrow (Thursday 24 April) at 7:30pm on SBS ONE. SBS have generously given us permission to share this recipe of Sardine Farcie (Stuffed Sardines) ahead of the show’s debut on TV. The sardines will be featured in episode 7 where Luke travels to Nice, the jewel of the French Riviera.
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 French shallot, chopped
- 2 tbsp roasted crushed almonds
- ¼ cup chopped coriander, plus extra to garnish
- ½ lime, rind grated, plus 1 lime, cut into wedges, to serve
- 1 red chilli, sliced, plus extra to garnish
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 140 g (2 cups) breadcrumbs
- 3 eggs, separated
- 6 sardines, boned and butterflied
- 125 ml (½ cup) olive oil
- 2 handfuls of rocket
- Combine rice, garlic, shallot, almonds, coriander, lime rind, chilli, salt, pepper, 2 tbsp breadcrumbs and egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Using your hands, stir to combine until ingredients stick together.
- On a flat plate, combine remaining breadcrumbs and coriander.
- Gently squeeze 1 tbsp stuffing in your hand to firmly combine ingredients, making a tight sausage shape. Place stuffing on the inside of a sardine, then flatten so it sticks to the sardine.
- Place the egg whites in a shallow bowl and whisk for 1 minute to thin out slightly. Dip sardines in egg white, then coat with the breadcrumbs and set aside. Repeat process with the remaining sardines and stuffing.
- Heat ⅓ cup olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook 2 sardines at a time, belly side down, for 2 minutes. Turn and cook for another 2 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towel.
- Meanwhile, place rocket in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and season.
- Place sardines on a serving platter with rocket leaves, extra chilli and coriander, and a wedge of lime.
- SBS cook's notes
- We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml.
- All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed.
- All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified.
- All eggs are 55–60 g, unless specified.
The resulting dish is uncomplicated and wonderfully textural – the light crumbing allows the natural flavours of fresh sardine to stand out, and the herbs and rice filling add a gorgeous aromatic touch. Canned sardines, I may not like, but these? I think I’ll be making these again!
Don’t forget to tune in to Luke Nguyen’s France on SBS One tomorrow night!
Luke Nguyen’s France begins Thursday 24th April at 7:30pm on SBS ONE. Following its premiere on SBS ONE, each episode will be available at sbs.com.au/food/luke-nguyens-france, on iTunes and Googleplay. The full series will be available on Blu-ray and DVD from June 2014.
This post is sponsored by SBS Food