Simplest of Sardines

Sparklingly fresh fish? It would be a shame to do anything but cook simply, and revel in the sea-salty freshness.

This will serve 3 people, maybe 4


  • 500g/1lb fresh sardines
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • glug of olive oil
  • a small bunch of parsley, or coriander, or dill


  • Clean and gut the fish, leaving on heads and tails; lay in an oven-proof dish.
  • Drizzle over 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, and add the lemon juice. Sprinkle over the crushed garlic cloves, the finely chopped herb stalks, a pinch of salt, and a grind of black pepper.
  • If you can, cover and leave to marinate for an hour or two.
  • Pre heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
  • Pop the fish into the oven for about 10 minutes – until the fish are just ready. [Do not overcook!]
  • Sprinkle over chopped herb leaves, and serve simply – plain mashed potatoes, dilled white rice, or just a nice crusty roll. As simple as that.

  • Option? After marinating, remove the fish to a plate.
    • Slice an onion thinly; bake in the dish juices so that the onion softens but does not colour. After about 10 minutes, lay the fish on top of the onions and continue cooking as above.
    • I might try adding a few halved cherry tomatoes to soften with the onions – but no more additions!

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