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    Sardines Escabechadas

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    Sardines Escabechadas

    Originally designed to preserve the fisherman's catch in the days when refrigeration was not an option, this dish tastes so good that it has remained on the Mediterranean menu ever since.

    • Preparation time: 40 minutes, plus at least 24 hours marinating
    • Total time: 40 minutes, plus at least 24 hours marinating

    Serves: 6

    Ingredients

    • 1kg fresh sardines, scaled, gutted and heads removed
    • 2-3 tbsp strong bread flour
    • 1 tsp coarse salt
    • 150ml extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 large mild onion, finely sliced
    • 1-2 garlic cloves, sliced
    • 1 smallish carrot, scraped and finely sliced
    • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
    • 1 bay leaf, torn
    • 1 tsp crumbled dried oregano or marjoram
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • ½ tsp crushed peppercorns
    • 1 tsp caster sugar
    • 4 tbsp sherry or white wine vinegar

    Method

    1. Rinse the sardines in a collander and shake dry - they should remain a little damp. Spread the flour, mixed with the salt, on a plate. Coat the fish lightly in the flour. Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil gently in a frying pan. Lay a single layer of sardines in the oil and fry for 2-3 minutes a side - longer if the fish are very plump. As soon as they're lightly browned, transfer to a shallow dish. Continue until all are cooked.
    2. Wipe the pan and heat the remaining oil gently. Add the remaining ingredients, in the order listed, cooking gently without letting anything brown.
    3. When they are all incorporated, increase the heat and bubble fiercely for a minute or two. Add 2 tbsp of water, then pour the aromatic liquid over the fish. Cover loosely with a clean cloth, cool and leave overnight in teh fridge. The following morning, turn the fish in the marinade. They will be ready to eat in a day, good in two, better in three. Serve with sliced tomatoes and a salad of bitter leaves.

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