Fried stuffed sardines


by: Cali Chef

There is a really famous Italian dish from Sicilia that I love, called sardine al beccafico, which is sardines split open and stuffed with broad crumbs, olive oil and tomato, then rolled up and baked for 5 or 6 minutes. Tho story is that the little rolls with their tails sticking out look like the bcccafico, a small, greedy bird who loves to cat figs, and so is considered to be a great judge of good food. I really wanted to have this dish on the menu, but it isn't easy to serve in a way that is right for the restaurant. l knew l would have to take out all the small bones — it is very important for a London restaurant to clean fish. So we came up with this way of filleting the fish and then wrapping the fillets around little balls of stuffing, made of broad crumbs, herbs, olive oil and Parmesan. I have to confess, though — and whisper this — that it breaks one of the fundamental rules of Italian cooking: never put cheese and fish together.


Adjust your ingredient quantities here. Simply enter how many servings you need, and the ingredient quantity will update accordingly!

serves: 4

8 small vine-ripened tomatoes (blanched, skinned, cut into quarters and deseeded)

10 tablespoons Giorgio's vinaigrette

12 small (or 8 large) sardines

20 black olives (pitted and halved)

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 handfuls of arugula

small bunch of chives, cut into batons

salt and pepper

For the stuffing:

2 slices of soft white bread (crusts cut off a little milk)

1 handful of basil

1 handful of flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

1 clove garlic chopped

Nutrition Facts
Fried stuffed sardines

Servings Per Recipe: 4

Amount per Serving

Calories: 491

  • Total Fat: 38.7 g
  •     Saturated Fat: 6.8 g
  •     Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 55.4 mg
  • Sodium: 553.9 mg
  • Total Carbs: 23.4 g
  •     Dietary Fiber: 3.8 g
  •     Sugars: 8.4 g
  • Protein: 16.1 g

how is this calculated?

Download Nutrition Facts Widget Code


1.  Start making the stuffing well ahead. Put the slices of bread into a bowl and pour ever enough milk to wet them all the way through. Transfer to a fine sieve and leave to drain fer 4 er 5 hours, but preferably overnight until the bread is moist but net wet (this step isn't essential, but it is best if you can do it).

2.  Toward the end of the bread soaking time, sprinkle the tomatoes with 4 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and leave to marinate.

3.  Put the basil and parsley into a food processor with the olive oil and whiz until finely chopped. Then add the bread crumbs, soaked bread (first squeezing out any excess milk, if necessary), Parmesan and garlic. Pulse until all the ingredients come together into a paste. Taste for seasoning and add some pepper and salt if necessary (there will already be some saltiness from the Parmesan).

4.  Under running water, scale the sardines and then open them out, leaving the heads attached. To do this, insert a sharp filleting knife at the tail end, next to the backbone, and cut upward, until you reach the belly of the fish. Turn the sardine over, then cut in the same way to the same point on the other side of the bone. Starting at the tail end, take the backbone between your forefinger and thumb and run them along the length of the bone up to the head. Cut across the bone at the tail end and head end and the bone should lift out, leaving the fillets still attached at the opposite side, so you can open them out like a book. At the outside of each fillet, you will see a black area with some fine bones. Just take your knife under these parts, and remove them. Then, with a pair of tweezers, take out any pin bones that may have remained in the fillets.

5.  Take a little of the stuffing and work it into a ball. Then place a filleted sardine on a board, put the stuffing inside, as close to the head as possible, and wrap the fillets around it. Smooth the stuffing that is still visible at the top and bottom, then secure with toothpicks.

6.  Alternate the tomato and olives around the edge of 4 serving plates.

7.  Cook the sardines in 2 batches. Heat half the olive oil in a large, nonstick frying pan. Season the sardines with a little salt and, when the oil is hot, put in half of them and brown on one side for about 1 to 2 minutes. Turn ever and cook fer 2 minutes en the ether side. Te make sure the stuffing is heated through, insert a sharp knife into the center and then put the knife to your lips to check that it is hot. Remove the sardines and keep hot while you cook the remainder in the rest of the oil.

8.  Take the toothpicks out of the sardines. Tess the arugula with 2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette and put it in the middle of the serving plates. Place the sardines en top of the arugula, then sprinkle with the chives and spoon the rest of the vinaigrette ever.

related recipes