sardines and morning swims

Saturday, April 5, 2014

When autumn refuses to accept that it isn't summer and crisp days refuse to appear as the leaves start to change colour, an indian summer is upon us.  On the northern beaches of Sydney we are lucky enough to enjoy this kind of weather more often than not.  This year though appears to have been hotter and more humid than ever.

The frangipanis and hibiscus are still in flower along with the last of the gardenias and ginger.  They fill the warm afternoon air with their perfume, there is a false sense of the cooler weather approaching.

As the crowds disappear, the beaches become our own again.  The locals who have stayed away through the busy summer season are back and the rhythm of life continues again as normal.

Saturday morning and we head to the beach early to have a walk and a swim.  We arrive in time to see the sunrise over the ocean, a special part of the day and not to be missed.  We linger, longer than we intended and find that we have missed breakfast so, salty from swimming and hungry, we choose a home cooked brunch over the lovely cafes, which at this time of day are a little too busy.

Sardines are one of our weekend treats.  Fond memories of my childhood are responsible for this tradition.  My father would make breakfast on the weekends and it was always something warm and nourishing.  Sardines on toast with lots of black pepper and a spritz of lemon is a recurrent memory.  Fresh sardines were not easy to find in New Zealand, so the tinned variety was used instead.  Living in Sydney, they are more readily available.  I rather enjoy the fresh slightly smoked ones, they have a lovely flavour and are filleted ready to go.

Samphire is a succulent and is also known as sea asparagus with a slightly salty flavour and is a perfect accompaniment with fish. It's best eaten in the summer when the leaves are bright green.  If you are buying frozen sardines make sure that they are butterflied.  I made the mistake of buying them whole and, as they are so fragile, they fall apart once handled, never again.

Sardines + Samphire

sardines whole or butterflied 3-4 per person
1 large knob butter
2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
500 grams samphire
1 lemon

Prepare the samphire by washing it thoroughly in cold water and checking carefully for any roots or woody pieces.  In a large pan bring fresh water to the boil then add a teaspoon of salt and add the samphire and cook for three to four minutes.  Remove from the heat and drain immediately returning the samphire to the pan, add a big knob of butter and ground pepper and toss so the butter and pepper coats the samphire.  Place on a serving platter.

Place scaled and gutted whole or butterflied sardines on a baking paper lined baking tray.  Sprinkle with salt, paprika and little knobs of butter.  Place under a hot grill for five to six minutes then turn your whole fish over and continue for a further four to five minutes or until golden and crispy. If you have chosen butterflied sardines they will only need to be cooked on one side and for only five to six minutes or until golden and crispy.  Remove immediately from under the grill and place on the bed of samphire and serve immediately with lemon or lime wedges on the side.

This is a perfect recipe for those, like myself, who follow a paleo or beyond paleo lifestyle, enjoy.


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