In the current issue of Edible San Francisco, writer Molly Watson waxes poetic about sardines (“Our Little Local Fish”). While I read the article with interest, I was skeptical about how rhapsodic she and editor Bruce Cole were in their enthusiasm. No more.
Turns out that sardines are local to the San Francisco Bay Area, readily available and sustainably fished. (They’re also a “super food” but that carries no sway with me.) The thing that really got me is that they’re delicious.
Molly lays out a pretty simple recipe for salt curing, so simple that, on spotting sardines at the Civic Center farmers market, I bought six on the spur of the moment, confident I could handle the process of gutting and curing.
Never much of a fisherman, this was my first experience at cleaning a fish. Luckily, sardines are small enough that there really isn’t much to it. In fact, it’s somewhat satisfying to take the fish, freshly caught that morning, through the steps from fishmonger to table.
Having cleaned them, I covered the fish with sea salt and set them in the refrigerator for two days. Today, I rinsed them, removed the bones and had my first taste of the silky treat. Watson rightly compares the consistency of salt-cured sardines to lox. They’re meaty, yet delicate.
Next up: grilled sardines, bones and all!