Friday, April 9, 2010

Italian obsession

There are some moments where I swear I must've been Italian in a previous life. I'm so fascinated by the processes, depth and intricacies of Italian food - which is why I'm over the moon that SBS has created a weekly TV drool-fest: Italian Food Safari.

When I saw this creation, I could almost smell the fried fish through the TV! It looked divinely innovative.
I headed off to buy the sardines at our local seafood market and was shocked - sardines are SO cheap!! As it was close to the end of the working day, I just bought all of what was left in the window - about 30 sardines I think and it was only $4.75. It's the perfect GFC budget food!

The only thing that irked me a bit about this recipe was filleting the sardines - which you do by pushing your thumb down the midline of the sardine from tail to head to splay the fillet, then gently lifting out the bone. It was easy, but each time I picked up a new, whole sardine, I kept thinking of my childhood goldfish, Sparkle! Just that slipperiness and the texture of it all was odd - I've never had to fillet a fish of any type before.

I remembered the ingredients that were required, but due to my utter laziness, I didn't bother to look up proportions and just went from memory and what felt right. The filling is composed of fresh white breadcrumbs (zap them in the food processor), chopped parsley, parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper and a beaten egg.

I had intended to use fresh parsley from my herb garden, but my neighbourhood friendly possum had completely gnawed my parsley plant to pieces. Grr. The only time I needed a significant quantity of it.

Pick up a sardine fillet, squish a little sausage of the mixture along the middle, then use another similarly sized fillet to sandwich over the top - then press the edges together slightly with your fingers to make it stick together.

Coat with a light dusting of plain flour.

Pan fry in olive oil for about 3-4 minutes per side.

These are incredibly delicious - the sardines still retain some of their inherent fishy-flavour, but with the salty characters of the parmesan and the parsley herbal-hit , it's a perfect balance. I used to love eating canned sardines in tomato sauce, but that is put to shame by this fresher alternative.

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, not to mention Vitamin D, calcium, B12 and protein and being very low carriers of mercury - this is skyrocketing to the top of my fish list. As I'd made so many, we had leftovers to eat the next day and believe it or not - they taste even more spectacular the second day. If you're going to try this recipe, definitely plan for leftovers. But you may have to hide some away from your family as you're cooking to actually create leftovers!

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