Grilled Sardines With Chilli, Lemon and Garlic – The Pros and Cons of Buying Little Fish

I don’t really buy fish. In the supermarkets fillets are quite expensive, and at the fishmonger’s they don’t really like to fillet your stuff. It takes too long and whatnot. I love a good salmon steak any day of the week, and I would be willing to give up my life for a last meal of a rare tuna steak. But do note, these don’t usually have bones at all.
Now sardines, on the other hand, have plenty. So many that in every half bite you take there will probably be at least three. But there are many reasons that speak for buying these babies none the less.
The obvious reason is that they’re cheap. I bought four average-size sardines, whole, for 85 pence. Less than a pound for dinner? Yes please. Another pro is that they’re extremely healthy – I’m not sure why, but that’s what the Internet says so it must be true…
Another unexpected pro: by the time you finish one fish, you’ll probably be half full already. With all the effort put into pulling away a bite, picking out the tiny scales and then finally getting to swallow it, trust me, two sardines will be enough…
sardines (7)
So the cons. The main one for me is pretty much a pro too: and that’s all those tiny bones. I have severe paranoia of fish scales since I saw a friend of mine swallow a small bone when I was really young, and the scene terrified me. (But you know what? I’ve already told you that story here.)
Another personal reason against buying fish, especially whole, is that I have this fear that they’ll come to life. Weird, right? But with their eyes open and staring at me whilst I rub them with chilli and garlic freak me out. Once they’re in the oven I’m fine though.
So there’s that, you decide if it’s worth it. But if you do come by some whole sardines, here’s what I did to them.
For the taste:
2 whole chillies
2 large garlic cloves
1/2 lemon
Salt, pepper
Some fresh parsley if you have some
This recipe is pretty much taken from Jamie Oliver, but I didn’t have parsley for example.
Anyway, just slice your ingredients (except the lemon) and put them into a baking tray with some olive oil. Then in go the fish, and now you can make use of your half a lemon by squeezing the juice all over the fish. All that’s left is to toss it around so that the flavour gets everywhere, and in it goes at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes.
You’ll know when it’s done, but if you want to look for something then look for the smell and colour. The fish’ll be bubbly and somewhat coloured, and if you try, you should be able to pull the flesh away really easily. Something like this:
sardines (2)
Served with some boiled or mashed potatoes with an extra squeeze of lemon, these babies are really tasty. Whether it’s worth the effort, I’ll let you decide; but every now and again, I’d say it is.

sardines (5)

About sgrvrnk

Vera Sugár, graduate with a journalism and creative writing degree, started writing at the age of 10. Passionate about literature, arts, history and languages, she speaks fluent English, French and Spanish. Her works are available at
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