In Morocco sardines can be found in abundance along the long coastline, making these flavorful little fish extremely affordable. For families living in areas near the ocean, sardines are a staple, showing up as a regular if not weekly offering on their tables.
Flavor and pricing aside, there's another good reason select sardines at the fish market –they're very good for us! Rich in vitamin B and omega-3 fatty acids as well as in calcium and vitamin D, the tasty, humble sardine is regarded as a superfood,
While some of the popular Moroccan treatments to sardines involve zesty seasoning and a bit of prep work – I'm thinking particularly of fried stuffed sardines and sardine balls in tomato sauce – the very simple presentation shown here requires almost no effort at all.
Baking is one of the quickest, easiest ways to prepare whole sardines. Although not necessary, doing so on a bed of rock salt avoids any sticking to the pan and infuses a bit of extra flavor. No seasoning is required, but I find that additions of pepper and olive oil do enhance the natural good flavor of this fish. Lemon slices may be placed over the sardines while they cook, with lemon wedges and cumin offered as condiments at the table.
Allow approximately one-half pound (250 g) of sardines per person when serving whole baked sardines as an entrée. The fish should be gutted and descaled before cooking.proceeding with the recipe.
- 1 kg (or 2 lbs.) whole fresh sardines
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup coarse sea salt (or rock salt, more or less as needed)
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Garnish: fresh lemon (thinly sliced or cut into wedges)
- Garnish: cumin (as a condiment for serving)
- Preheat your oven to 350° F (175° C).
- Wash the sardines in a bowl of water, scraping off any residual scales with a small knife. Drain the sardines.
- If desired, line a shallow baking dish or rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Generously sprinkle rock salt or coarse sea salt on the bottom and arrange the sardines on top of the salt.
- Brush or drizzle each sardine with a little olive and season generously with freshly ground pepper. If you like, sprinkle additional rock salt over the fish, topping with a few thin slices of fresh lemon.
- Bake the sardines in the middle of the preheated oven for 10 minutes, or just until the skin slides off easily and the fish is tender. For darker coloring, bake in the upper part of the oven.
- Transfer the sardines to a serving platter garnished with lemon wedges. Cumin may be offered at the table as a condiment.