Consider the sardine. The name alone evokes a crowded subway car (“packed in like sardines”) or saltine crackers — or, if you’re me, a lip-smacking treat.
The sight of sardines in an opened can, pressed together tightly and cleverly layered, is actually quite beautiful. If you are a fan, a portable lunch of tinned sardines and crackers is a fine thing.
Some, however, prefer a canned-sardine sandwich, whether on white bread with mayo and onions, on toasted buttered brown bread, or open-faced on rye with lettuce and tomato.
Simple Grilled Sardines (Serves 4)
8 fresh sardines, cleaned and scaled
Salt and pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and very finely sliced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish
Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire or stovetop grill pan, or light the broiler.
Season sardines inside and out with salt and pepper and paint both sides lightly with olive oil
Lay sardines on the grill and cook them on one side for about 2 minutes, until nicely browned. (Sardines rarely stick to the grill.) Carefully flip sardines and cook for about 2 minutes more, until just done.
Transfer each portion to individual plates. Put the sliced fennel in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
Dress with about 2 tablespoons olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Place a pile of dressed fennel evenly on each plate.
Serve with lemon wedges and a sprinkle of parsley.
The New York Times