A lot of people have an aversion to them in their fresh form, maybe they had a bad encounter with a less than fresh fish, or maybe is the little bones you cant get rid of, but the people who clocked on to how good they are, they are the smart ones, in my book.
Sardines, with all the other little oily fish – herring, anchovies, have the same taste apeal as oysters – the briny, mineral sea flavour, but with a firm bite and buttery texture. And the are cheap – for the price of a single oyster you can buy a pound of them.
I got these at the Portugese fishmonger on market row, brixton market. I must admit, most of the fish stalls in the market (and butchers, for that matter) are quite disgusting, but these guys are ok, if you know what your`e looking for. The ones on Atlantic Ave. are not bad either. I didnt plan on getting anything, but when you see sardines as fresh and nice as this, you just buy them.
And when they are as fresh and nice as this, they need as little intervention as possible. After they are cleaned and trimmed thouroghly, they get a good sprinkling of salt, and are left to cure with vine leaves, a bit of lemon and a tiny bit of garlic.
After a few hours the fish will have changed colour slightly, and it is ready to eat. It can be left to cure for longer, but I think that it should be as close as possible to raw. Cover it now in oil and you can keep it in the fridge for a week or longer, but I rarely do – on a plate with some olive oil, a bit of parsley and a squeeze of tomato, and I doubt you ever got that much joy out of £2.30.