crispy fried sardines, smoked scamorza and salmoriglio sauce
sardine fritte con scamorza affumicata e crema di salmoriglio
TOTAL TIME: 45 minutes plus chilling
MAKES: 8 antipasti servings
Michael White, of New York’s elegant and ethereal restaurants Marea and Ai Fiori, brings out the luxurious possibilities of an everyday fish. “As a start to a celebratory meal,” White says, “there is something really beautiful about pairing an oily blue fish with a smoky cheese to whet the palate.” His sardine recipe, he says, “combines all components of fulfillment—the silky texture of the fish, the crunchiness of the coating, the smokiness of the cheese and the coolness of the dipping sauce.”
- 16 butterflied sardines (2 to 3 ounces each), heads removed
- Fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound scamorza or smoked mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 4 large eggs
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1 cup coarse plain bread crumbs
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 2 cups baby arugula
- 2 lemons, cut into wedges
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Freshly ground black pepper
FOR SARDINES: Arrange sardines on a work surface, flesh-side up; season with salt and pepper. On top of 8 sardines, layer cheese, then top with remaining 8 sardines skin-side up, to form neat packets. Arrange packets in a baking dish and cover sardines with parchment or wax paper. Weight with cans of canned vegetables or a heavy skillet. Refrigerate at least 1 hour, up to 8 hours.
Remove sardines from refrigerator, remove weight. Let sardines come to room temperature before frying. Just before you are ready to fry sardines, prepare sauce.
FOR SAUCE: In a medium bowl, combine oil, lemon juice and salt; whisk vigorously to combine. Whisking constantly, add
hot water, drizzling in a bit at a time. Add garlic, oregano, parsley and generous pinch pepper; whisk to combine. Adjust
salt to taste.
Spread flour on a large plate. In a large shallow bowl, lightly beat together eggs and milk. On a second large plate, spread bread crumbs. Working with 1 sardine packet at a time, lightly flour packet, then dip in egg, letting excess egg drip off, then firmly press into bread crumbs to coat all sides. Transfer to a large plate or baking sheet and repeat with remaining packets.
Place a wire rack over a baking sheet and arrange near stove.
Fill a large skillet with oil to come 1/4 inch up sides. Heat oil over medium to medium-high heat until shimmering. In batches, carefully fry packets, adjusting heat if necessary (oil should not smoke), until golden brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer packets to wire rack to drain, then season both sides with salt and pepper.
Arrange sardines on serving plates; garnish with arugula and lemon wedges. Whisk together sauce, then spoon into small bowls for serving. Serve sardines warm with sauce.
Recipes by chef Michael White
Photo by Ellen Silverman
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