Chef Justine Smith Profiles West Coast Sardines
Today is World Oceans Day, and once again we are participating in Relais & Chateaux’s #FishUnknown Project in partnership with Ethic Ocean to celebrate sustainable seafood. A symphony of the sea’s biodiversity, the goal of the project is to showcase lesser-known species across social media in the form of recipes and highlights.
Our executive chef Justine Smith is profiling Pacific Sardines, which are high in vitamins and nutrients but underused as a local west coast fish. If handled delicately BC Sardines are a delightful local treat!
Sardines have an average lifespan of 5-13 years, can grow to be 12 inches long and feed on plankton in the Pacific Ocean. They are sustainably fished using a purse seine method.
Justine’s beautiful dish pictured here features sardine bagna cauda, sourdough crisp, pickled vegetables, confit garlic, nasturtium and garden flowers. Check out the recipe below for all the details and instructions to make this at home:
West Coast Sardines
Sardine bagna cauda, sourdough, pickled vegetables, confit garlic and garden greens
Bagna cauda is essentially Italian fondue. Typically served family style in a small pot, it is a mixture of garlic, onion and anchovy (sardine in this case) cooked down in oil and butter. Vegetables pickled, cooked and raw as well as bread are dipped in and shared.
This is fancy bagna cauda on toast!
Sardine Bagna Cauda
Fresh or frozen sardines will typically be whole with all the good stuff still intact. To process sardines, make a cut down the belly of the sardine and remove the guts from inside. Gently rinse the sardine in a bowl of cold water. Once rinsed, run your knife gently down either side of the spine on the inside of the fish just to gently loosen then run your fingers down either side gently to fully loosen. Using your fingers pull the spine out from the neck to the tail. Using a knife gently remove any small bones or impurities, you can all the removed bones to your sardine oil. Rinse again in a clean bowl of cold water removing as much undesired parts as possible and let dry on a kitchen towel for a few moments.
Makes enough liquid for 8-10 sardines.
Pickling Liquid for Vegetables
Cut a square of sourdough for your toast base. Heat 2 tbsp of butter in a small frying pan on medium heat. Once butter is foaming add your piece of sourdough and toast until golden brown. Once achieved turn bread over and toast the other side until it is also golden brown. Leave to drain for a few moments on a kitchen towel.
Making the Sardine Toast
Spoon a layer of the Sardine Bagna Cauda sauve over your piece of toasted sourdough. Lay the Cooked sardine filet down next. Arrange your pickled vegetables, garlic confit, garden greens and flowers covering the filet (Leaving the head on is optional.) Drizzle a small amount of finishing olive oil over top and sprinkle with a small pinch of sea salt. Add extra sauce to the plate for more dipping if you’d like to, and enjoy!
Visit https://events.relaischateaux.com/en/exquisite-fish/ for more participating Fish Unknown properties around the world.