Sardine Escabeche

Cook Time 45 minutes (+ marinating)

Servings 4


1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

2 star anise

300ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 baby carrots, finely sliced

2 golden shallots, peeled and finely sliced

1 celery stick, finely sliced diagonally

4 cloves garlic, finely sliced

50 ml red-wine vinegar
50 ml sherry vinegar
3 sprigs dill
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs thyme
pinch of saffron threads
1 tsp Spanish paprika or pimenton (smoked paprika) finely grated

zest and juice of 1 lemon finely grated

zest and juice of 1 orange
sea salt, to taste
24 fresh sardine fillets
½ fennel bulb, finely shaved


Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, fennel seeds and star anise and cook for a few minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until lightly toasted. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil in the pan and add the carrot, shallot, celery and garlic. Cook the vegetables over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are very soft but not coloured. Add both vinegars and cook until reduced by half.

Add the bay leaves, thyme, saffron, paprika and the toasted coriander and fennel seeds. Stir in the zest and juice. Set aside 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and stir the rest into the marinade. Heat without boiling, stirring until combined, and season with sea salt to taste. Set this marinade aside to cool to around 50°C (just warm).

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan and sear the skin side of the sardine fillets. Transfer to a shallow glass or ceramic dish and pour the marinade over. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

To serve, remove the fish from the marinade and arrange on serving plates. Garnish with the shaved fennel and chopped dill, and drizzle with some of the marinade.


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