These beautiful bite-sized baby sardines are nutrient-dense (especially high in Vitamin B 12 and Omega-3 fatty acids), and they are done literally in a couple of minutes. The freshness and crispiness they bring to the table is amazing. Every time when I think about this dish, summer is the first thing that comes to my mind – this is a proper summer dish.

They are perfect as appetizers, but if you serve them with my broccoli-potato mash and some crunchy salad, you can feed a whole hungry group with it.

PotSwinger - Crispy Baby Sardines with Broccoli-Potato Mash

Ingredients for the sardines

  • 400g whole baby sardines (fresh or frozen)
  • 50g wheat flour
  • 50g cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3-4 tbsp coconut oil (or any other cooking oil with a high smoke point)

Ingredients for the broccoli-potato mash

  • 450g yellow potatoes
  • 450g broccoli florets
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 100ml single cream
  • Juice of a half lemon
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 1 big pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

PotSwinger - Crispy Baby Sardines with Broccoli-Potato Mash

Method

Defrost the baby sardines, if you are using frozen ones, otherwise just quickly rinse them. Carefully pad the fish dry with paper towels as much as you can. It’s an important step for the desired crispy outcome.

In a small bowl, mix together wheat flour, corn meal, parsley, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. In small batches, dust the sardines with flour and make sure they are all well-coated, then put them aside.

In a large pan, boil some water for the vegetables.

For the broccoli-potato mash, wash both the potatoes and broccoli (no need to peel the potatoes), then chop them up into bite-sized pieces.

When the water is boiling, add a little bit of salt and the potatoes to the water, then cover it with a lid and boil them until they are almost cooked through. In the last 4-5 minutes, add the broccoli florets and garlic cloves to the pan.

In the meantime, heat 2 tbsp of coconut oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat and fry the sardines in small batches until they are golden brown on each sides. Make sure you spread them in one single layer on the bottom of the pan for maximum crispiness. They will get ready very quickly, in about 4-5 minutes per batch. Add a bit more coconut oil to the pan if needed, and be very careful when you place the fish in the oil, don’t burn yourself.

When they are done, I like to place them on a wire rack instead of paper towels. Therefore the excess oil can drip off, and the heat won’t trap underneath the fish, so the crispy coating won’t get soggy.

Drain the vegetables, let them to cool for a couple of minutes, then transfer them to a food processor. Add butter, single cream, lemon juice, parsley and spices, then puree it to the desired texture. This way you can leave some lumps in the mash or you can create a silky smooth puree, if that’s what you like. Check the taste for seasoning, then serve it on the side of the baby sardines with a couple of lemon wedges for extra freshness.

If you would like to cut back on the calories, you can bake the sardines in the oven. They are not going to be as crispy as the fried version, but they are still going to be very tasty. Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 7 (210 C), line a large baking tray with baking paper and spread the fish on the tray in one single layer. Spray them with a little bit of oil spray (they are already naturally oily, so you won’t need much extra oil), then bake them in the oven for about 18-20 minutes or until they are golden brown all around. Turn them over half-way through to make sure they are cooking evenly.

PotSwinger - Crispy Baby Sardines with Broccoli-Potato Mash

Ingredients and equipment I use:

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