I haven’t eaten a sardine in about thirty years. The sardine run was always a much awaited event on the Durban calendar. Somewhere in the 80’s there were huge shoals of fish that washed up on the shores in Durban and there were people actually scooping them up in buckets.
Firstly, it was quite a sight…I was amazed by the piles of fish heaped on the shore and the locals seemed to be in a trance as they went about collecting their sardine stash. A few days later, I was sure that I overdosed on freshly fried spicy sardines! There were sardines everywhere and every home that visited also served sardines…I do see them on the menu at Portuguese restaurants but haven’t eaten one since!
There have been a few Facebook posts about the sardines in Durban and here is one of my Spicy Sardine recipes….I serve them with a spicy tomato chutney that coats the sardines keeping them moist and delicious!
I’m ready to give sardines a bash again…if only I could find one in Jozi and have it prepared the old fashioned Durban way! I really do miss Durban and all it’s beautiful people and treats!
Sardines in a Spicy Sauce
10ml red chilli powder
Sunflower oil to shallow fry
For the Spicy Tomato Sauce
30ml sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sprigs of curry leaves
15ml red chilli powder
5ml coarse salt
10ml roasted coriander powder (dhania powder)
5ml roasted cumin powder (jeera powder)
Handful of fresh coriander
Slice a cross into the base of each tomato and place them in a bowl. Pour boiling water over the tomatoes and leave aside for 3 minutes. Remove the skins and chop the tomatoes.
Sprinkle turmeric, salt and red chilli powder over the sardines and gently rub the spices over. Place the sardines in a bowl and cover with cling film. Leave in a refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Heat the sunflower oil in a pot. Fry the finely chopped onion until light golden brown. Add the crushed
garlic and curry leaves. Stir for a few seconds and then add the red chili powder.
Stir the red chilli powder for 5 seconds and then add the chopped tomatoes.
Season with salt and keep stirring until the tomatoes soften slightly.
Add the roasted ground cumin, coriander and the turmeric. Lower the heat and continue stirring until the tomatoes dissolve and form a thick sauce.
Heat the sunflower oil in a non stick frying pan and fry the sardines in batches until crispy.
Remove from the heat and gently dab the sardines with paper towel to remove excess oil. Repeat this process until all the sardines are fried.
Spoon some of the tomato sauce over the base of a casserole dish and then spoon the remaining sauce over the sardines and sprinkle the chopped coriander over. Garnish with a few curry leaves.
To clean the sardines: Scale sardines and make a cut along the bottom of the fish. Remove the intestines and entrails. Rinse the fish under cold running water and pat dry using absorbent paper towels.
Handle the sardines gently as they do tend to break up when handled roughly.