Pan-fried sardines with breadcrumb salsa, heirloom tomatoes and shaved fennel


  • Serves 6 people

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 900 gm (about 24) sardine fillets
  • 4 small oxheart tomatoes, thickly sliced into rounds
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 baby fennel
  • 3 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 punnet of mâche
  • Breadcrumb salsa
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 small golden shallot, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1 clove of garlic, very finely chopped
  • 150 gm coarse sourdough breadcrumbs, toasted
  • 25 gm currants soaked in 3 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp capers, drained
  • 1 tbsp coarsely chopped mint leaves
01   For breadcrumb salsa, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan, add shallot and garlic and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat or until just warmed. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl, add shallot and garlic, season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and stir until combined, then cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Makes about 2 cups.
02   Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over high heat, add sardine fillets, skin side down, season with sea salt and fry for 3-4 minutes or until the sardine fillets become opaque near the centre. Place sardines onto an oven tray, skin side up, sprinkle with 1 cup breadcrumb salsa, then grill for 1 minute, ensuring breadcrumbs do not burn.
03   Season tomatoes to taste, and divide among plates. Using a mandolin or V-slicer, finely slice fennel into a bowl, add extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar, season to taste and toss to combine. Place fennel on top of tomatoes, top with sardines and scatter with remaining breadcrumb salsa and mâche. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve immediately.
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