I started doing my grocery shopping at Grand Central Terminal Market since Iâ€™ve begun my work commute to Connecticut. Most days, I go straight down to SoHo to swim anyway and I can pick something up before I head to the gym via the 6 train. Last week, Pescatore Seafood was selling fresh Portuguese sardines. I never see them in the city so I got excited and bought four pieces for about $9. Sardines are a great source of heart-healthy omega-3 fats but they get a bad rep because most people think they stink. If you buy fresh fishâ€”any kind of fish at allâ€”they really shouldnâ€™t smell fishy. The guy behind the counter cleaned and gutted them, leaving the heads on per my request. I then walked down the hall to buy a fennel bulb from Greenwich Produce.
When I got home, I found some golden raisins that I had bought a few weeks back for another recipe and my last big bulb of onion by the windowsill. Breadcrumbs were also in order because I imagined Lydia Bastianich would use them to keep the sardines intact while cooking. I couldnâ€™t get them to stick to the fish, so I decided to stuff them instead. For those who want a heavier version of this meal, serve with bucatini pasta cooked al dente and drizzle with olive oil before serving. It was a good dinner for me with a dry bottle of Meulenhof 2008 Riesling. It raised a few eyebrows the next day during lunch, but then again, you have to like food so much to get excited by just seeing fresh Portuguese sardines at the market.
4 fresh sardines, cleaned, patted dry using paper towel
1 cup bread crumbs
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1 red onion, quartered
a handful of golden raisins
1 cup of vegetable broth
1 tbsp fennel seeds
oil, salt, pepper
1. In a large skillet, heat some olive oil and cook the onions until they are soft. Add the fennel, fennel seeds, raisins and a little of the broth. Stir occasionally until fennel pieces are soft. Add more broth if the skillet gets dry before the fennel is completely cooked. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Meanwhile, cook the sardines. In another skillet, heat some oil. While oil is heating, stuff the sardines with breadcrumbs. Fry the sardines by gently placing them in the skillet. Cook the other side after about 7 minutes by turning them over gently using a flat heat-resistant spatula. Serve by putting the fennel in a nice shallow dish and top with the sardines. Sprinkle with leftover breadcrumbs and raisins.