Sardinas en Escabeche y Pan Crujiente

Marinated Sardines on Crisp Bread Wafers

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • 12

    Tapas Medias Raciones

Appears in

MoVida Rustica

By Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish

Published 2009

  • About

MADRID MAY BE ALMOST 400 KILOMETRES INLAND BUT IT HAS ONE OF THE LARGEST FISH MARKETS IN THE WORLD. FISH ARE TRUCKED AND FLOWN IN FROM THE MEDITERRANEAN AND CANTABRIAN SEAS, THE ATLANTIC OCEAN AND WATERS FURTHER AWAY. THE SPANISH ARE FISH MAD. WALK PAST PEOPLE IN THE STREET AND YOU CAN HEAR THEM ON THEIR MOBILE PHONES HAVING A HEATED DISCUSSION ABOUT HAKE. ESCABECHE IS A PRESERVING TECHNIQUE THAT IS THOUSANDS OF YEARS OLD, YET I SAW THIS DISH BEING SERVED IN A FUNKY NEW SPOT IN MADRID WHERE YOUNG PEOPLE WERE TWO-DEEP AT THE BAR — AND HALF OF THEM WERE ORDERING THIS.

Ingredients

  • 1 small, heavy breadstick
  • 24 fresh sardine fillets
  • seasoned plain (all-purpose) flour, to coat
  • 100 ml ( fl oz) olive oil
  • sea salt
  • some extra bread, to serve escabeche

Escabeche

  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 red onion(s), finely sliced
  • a pinch of saffron threads
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) good chardonnay vinegar
  • 330 ml (11¼ fl oz/1⅓ cups) white wine
  • tablespoons chopped parsley

Method

Using a very sharp bread knife, trim the ends, sides, top and bottom off the breadstick to make a rectangle 12 cm ( inches) long. Slice the bread across the top to make very thin, long wafers. Place the bread on a baking tray, cover with another tray the same size, then bake for 15 minutes, or until the bread browns slightly and becomes crunchy. Leave to cool on a wire rack, then store in an airtight container.

To make the escabeche, heat half the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan over high heat and sauté the onion for 2–3 minutes, or until beginning to soften. Stir in the saffron, reduce the heat to medium, then add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, peppercorns and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15–20 minutes, or until the onion is soft but not coloured. Stir in the vinegar, wine, remaining olive oil and 200 ml (7 fl oz) water, then cover and simmer for another 20 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the parsley, remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F/Gas 2–3).

Dust the sardine fillets in the flour. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the sardines in batches, skin side down, and fry for 1 minute, then turn, season with sea salt and cook for another minute. Remove from the heat and drain on paper towel.

Spoon some cooled escabeche into a glass or ceramic dish to cover the base. Add a layer of sardines, then cover with more escabeche. Repeat and pour the remaining liquid into the container. Cover and leave to stand for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavours to mingle.

To serve, select 24 of the best wafers, then remove the sardines from the marinade and place one on each wafer with a little escabeche mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve warm or at room temperature, with a little extra bread to soak up the marinade.