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.
Using a very sharp bread knife, trim the ends, sides, top and bottom off the breadstick to make a rectangle
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
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
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.
© 2009 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.