Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Dash likes to poke my chest and say, "Mama, your bones are beneath your skin." Somehow it's comforting to know what I'm made of.

We bought a pile of fresh sardines that came from Monterey Bay to see what they were made of. Dash leaned in for a thorough examination. He couldn't feel the bones by poking the fish.
When Dash is learning something new, his shoulders creep up to his ears and he holds his breath. I often find myself holding my breath with him. It's such a relief when he finally exhales. 

"Phewwwwwww. Mama. Look at those eyeballs. Can I lick one?"

I couldn't think of a reason why not.
"The fish aren't real when they're dead, right?"

I tried to connect the dots a bit between life and death. "Yes,  Dash, the fish are real. Even when they're dead. Someone killed them and we're choosing to eat them." He didn't hear a word. He was spinning around and totally tuning me out. So we focused on what he could follow. Cooking.
These were huge sardines. But the fish guy told me we could eat everything (guts, eyeballs, bones and all). I smothered the whole fish in garlic, wine, capers, lemon, parsley, and bread crumbs. They cooked in about 8 minutes. Then we tore the fish apart with our fingers and scooped up the yummy sauce with some gooey country bread.

Along with the flesh of the fish, we ate some intestines, some bile, and some eyeballs.

"Yum," sighed Dash. "I love this dish. Except for the bones."

printable recipe

You can marinate the fish for a few hours or overnight. Put the bread crumbs on right before cooking. If you grill the fish, leave off the bread crumbs.
serves 2
  • 10-15 sardines (beheaded, gutted, and filleted if you wish)
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely grated or chopped
  • 2 anchovies, chopped
  • juice/zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons capers plus a bit of brine
  • 1/4 cup white white
  • 1 cup San Marzano-style diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 green onions, finely sliced (white plus a bit of the green)
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 450° F. Place whole sardines in a baking dish (skin down if gutted and filleted).  Season with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine garlic, anchovies, lemon juice/zest, capers, white wine, tomatoes, olive oil, parsley, and green onions. Spread the mixture all over the fish.  Sprinkle bread crumbs all over the top. Place in the oven. Check them after 3 minutes. They're done when the fish is just past translucent. The sardines will cook really fast, especially if they're small. Eat right away with bread and a salad.


  1. Wow. Those were some pretty large sardines. The ones we get are smaller. Love 'em seasoned, dredged in flour and deep fried bones and all.I do remove the intestines though.

  2. Phyllis,

    Funny.... Lilah's favorite part of any grilled/fried fish are the eyes:)

    Sardines are so appealing - super good for you, sustainable, and really cheap. We are always on the lookout for a good recipe. Your sounds delish!

    Beautiful photos as always!

    Miss you guys,

  3. What a charming post. It made me smile, as I remember my dad feeding me sardines when I was still in a highchair. Apparently, it was our little secret and my mom was not to be told.

  4. Adorable post and great photos. Thanks for sharing!

  5. This is fabulous. I love your foodie blog. You inspire me to "let go" in the kitchen with my children. Thank you :)

  6. I think he is hungry. And so he is taste its. I like those fish. It is wonderful. My mouth want to taste it.

  7. I am so jealous of your fresh sardines. I grew up spending summers in Spain with family and these are the size of sardines we'd get from the fishermen on the dock. Grilled simply over a wood fire? Nothing better. I love sardines.

  8. I've just found your blog - the pictures are lovely, and the recipes refreshing. I look forward to discovering more...

  9. I swear every comment won't be about Africa, but the fish eye thing made me laugh. In Ghana the eye of the fish is given to the guest of honor at the meal, who noisily slurps it out of the head. I have consumed more fish eyes than I care to admit, and always with a smile on my face.

  10. Very interesting blog..and Its really fabulous. I have only tasted fish pickle once. Chicken pickle, I even heard for the first time!

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