Barbecued Sardines with Summer Herb Sauce

Sardines have a very evocative flavour and aroma that perfectly suit eating out of doors. This is a recipe that can easily be prepared well ahead of time and, if the coals on the barbecue are good and hot, the fish are cooked in moments. If sorrel is unavailable, use young spinach leaves mixed with some grated zest of lemon – about 1 tablespoon – for the stuffing. If it rains, the sardines will cook perfectly well under a domestic grill or on a ridged grill pan.


Serves 4

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Summer Collection and The Delia Collection: Fish

Barbecued Sardines with Summer Herb Sauce
 2 lb (900 g) fresh sardines (about 12)
 6 oz (175 g) fresh sorrel leaves (stalks removed), washed and dried
 about 2 tablespoons olive oil
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
For the sauce:
 1 rounded tablespoon snipped fresh chives
 1 level tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
 1 rounded tablespoon chopped fresh basil
 1 rounded tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or chervil
 3 shallots, finely chopped
 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
 salt and freshly milled black pepper


First, prepare the sardines.

Use a small pair of scissors to cut open the bellies and remove the innards. Then wipe them inside and out with damp kitchen paper and arrange them on a plate.

Next, chop the sorrel leaves fairly finely, then season and use three-quarters of them to stuff inside the bellies of the fish.

Sprinkle the oil over the fish and rub it in so that they all get a good coating.

Now prepare the sauce by placing the remaining sorrel leaves along with the other herbs, the shallots and garlic in a jug or serving bowl and add 5 tablespoons boiling water followed by the vinegars.

Stir well and season with salt and pepper.

The sardines will need very little time to cook – just 2 minutes on each side.

Serve with the sauce handed round separately.

These are also very good served with Oven-roasted Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary.




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