The humble sardines turned into an elegant healthy dinner dish, Sardine ala escabeche is a recipe that transforms the ordinary into a luxury. Sardines are considered as a commodity in most parts of the world because they are inexpensive and widely available. Michelin Chef Christophe Petra prepares this classic Mediterranean dish with dehydrated tomatoes and an onion fondue creating a sumptuous appetizer fit to be served in a fancy dinner with a glass of Bourgogne Aligote.
Escabeche is a Spanish dish of fried or poached fish marinated in a sour sauce. In this recipe, Chef Petra gives escabeche a Provencal treatment by using a lot of fresh herbs and spices from the Provencal region. While most of the preparations are easy to do, this recipe takes quite some time to prepare mostly because of the four hours that it takes to bake the tomatoes in the oven. The tomatoes are first blanched in hot water, peeled, cored, cut into four slices and cooked in low heat so that they dehydrate and release their inner sweetness. The dried tomatoes are arranged like flower petals around the plate, while the onion fondue is heaped on the center of the fish recipes.
Ingredients: 12 fresh sardines, chervil, coriander, parsley, chives, tarragon, 3 large white onions, 3 tomatoes, 1 garlic clove, fresh thyme, parmesan cheese, 2 or 3 garlic breadcrumbs, basil oil, pure, cold-pressed olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Banyuls red wine vinegar, black pepper, Guerande salt, paprika, dry coriander
Take the fresh sardines. Cut off the heads. Gut. Scrape off the scales delicately under cold water. Remove the backbone (don’t include the tail). Refrigerate. Ground the pepper. Mince the thyme. Remove the stems from the tomatoes. Dip into boiling water. When cool, cut into quarters. Arrange on a grill. Sprinkle with some pepper, thyme, and coriander. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake at an oven heated at 80°F for 4 hours. Chop the onions. Put in a saucepan. Add some thyme, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Cook for 1 ½ hour to make an onion fondue. Remove from the stems then wash the fresh herbs with some vinegar to make a salad. Place on a bowl. Rub garlic on the bread then break them on the bowl. Set aside. Arrange a few tomatoes in a circular manner on a serving plate, leaving gaps in between. Place a heap of onion fondue on the middle. Fry the sardines in a pan (skin side only) just until the whole fish are warmed up. Align them with the tomatoes, placing them on the gaps and leaning the tails on the heap of onion fondue. Pour basil oil and drizzle vinegar around the dish. Grate the cheese over the sardines. Sprinkle paprika around about the edges of the plate. Season the salad with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Arrange on a serving plate. You may now serve the pair. Enjoy your meal!
This gives the dish a nice color and flavors that are intricately balanced. The bones of the sardines are taken out before they are cooked lightly in oil. Only the bottom part of the fish where the skin is touches the pan so that the upper fleshy part is slightly pink when done. This recipe also works well with other oily fish such as mackerel, herring, jacksmelt, or bonito. Other fish such as snapper, rockfish, trout, and porgies will also work as long as they are sliced thinly enough.