Don't think "little stinky fish in a can". Think elegant tapas filing. Seriously. And I can go one step further and boldly proclaim this: If you like salmon, you will like sardines.
It's taken a long time to get the point of actually liking these things. And I have Alton Brown to thank.
His recent episode on Food Network's "Good Eats" outlined his weight loss plan and brisling sardines played a large part in that. I watched him make these lovely sourdough toasts topped with avocado, parsley, lemon, sherry vinegar, freshly ground black pepper and brislings and they looked, well, intriguing.
My previous experience with brislings was as a teenager, sitting at the breakfast table with the Baltic side of my family. They all happily plunged into a large jar containing larger specimens called sprats and devoured them. With eggs. Very early in the morning. I had to hide my eyes and focus on my oatmeal.
Alton's recipe piqued my interest because a) he marinated them in lemon and sherry vinegar--yum, b) used avocado--yum and c) toasted sourdough bread--yum, yum, yum. The nutritional benefits of said fish are impressive as well. I made this tonight for dinner and enjoyed it with a glass of wine. And I didn't faint. It was funky-looking but IT WAS REALLY GOOD. (Wow!)
But I made some changes. Just because.
First of all, I snipped off the tails with kitchen scissors. (They freak me out.)
Secondly, I used cilantro instead of parsley. (It has a stronger flavor and would mask any potentially fishy aftertaste, I reasoned.) Plus, it worked well with the other Spanish flavors in the dish.
And thirdly, I brushed the sourdough bread with garlic oil instead of the oil from the sardine can. It just seemed more appealing. Garlic is a wonderful thing.
I called Dad and told him what I ate. He laughed knowingly. My heritage is showing. Thanks, A.B.