Grilled sardines with Essaouira salad

Serves 4 as a main course
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Indy Lifestyle Online


This is typical of the salad served on the quayside in Essaouira. It works really well with oily fish like sardines or mackerel as the acidity of the preserved lemons cuts the oiliness of the fish in that refreshingly tart way. You can buy preserved lemons in larger supermarkets.

8 medium-sized sardines, cleaned
2 large green peppers
3 ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded and cut into rough 1cm dice
4 spring onions, chopped
6tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2tbsp white wine vinegar
1 small clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
The peel from 1 large or 2 small preserved lemons, cut into small dice
2tsp ras el hanout
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat a grill to the hottest temperature. Cut the peppers into 4 lengthways, remove the stalk and seeds and put them on a grill tray. Grill them skin-side-up for about 10 minutes until the skin is blistering and blackening. Remove from the tray and put into a bowl and cover with clingfilm and leave for about 10 minutes. Remove the skin with your fingers or by scraping with a knife.

Cut the peppers into a rough 1cm dice and put them into a bowl with the tomatoes, spring onion, olive oil, vinegar, garlic and preserved lemon. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well. Taste the salad and add a little of the juice from the preserved lemons to taste.

Make a couple of diagonal slashes across each side of the fish, brush them with olive oil and rub about 1/2tsp of ras el hanout into the skin and the slashes of each. Season the sardines with some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Gill the fish for about 3 minutes on each side until the skin begins to crisp. Serve with the salad and some good crusty bread.

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