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Sardines are my favorite fish, as regular readers of this blog will know. Since I found a fishmonger that sells them already filleted in a neat packet, I buy them every time I see them at the Victoria Market in Melbourne. I make them several ways including Venetian style and with spaghetti. But my new favorite way is with pecorino and panko crumbs. Yes, sardines with cheese. I had something similar at a local restaurant as an antipasto a few months ago and after experimenting with what to put in the crumb, I believe I have perfected it.

sardines-collage-italy on my mind

The panko crumbs ensure the sardines are crisp and the added saltiness and taste of pecorino (a sheep’s milk cheese) with the garlic and parsley makes it a taste sensation. I like to scatter on some fresh lemon zest just before serving the sardines as part of a shared antipasto. They match beautifully with a cold and crisp Arneis from the King Valley.

Crumbed sardines with pecorino and panko crumbs

12 Sardines, filleted
75g Pecorino pepato, grated
75g panko crumbs
1 clove garlic, crushed
Handful parsley leaves, finely chopped
Plain flour, for dusting
1 large (or two small) egg/eggs, lightly beaten
1 – 2 tablespoons milk
Olive oil for frying
Zest of one lemon
Sea salt to taste
Lemon to serve

Prepare the crumb mixture by mixing together the pecorino, panko crumbs, garlic and parsley. Place in a shallow bowl and set aside. Mix the egg and milk Wash the sardines and pat dry with paper towels. Dust one sardine at a time with flour then dip in the egg mixture, then the crumb mixture, making sure they are well coated. Set aside.

When the sardines are all crumbed, heat olive oil in a large frypan. The sardines should shallow fry so you don’t need too much oil. When the oil is hot, cook the sardines (as many as fit in the pan in a single layer without over-filling) on one side for a few minutes then on the other until golden brown. Drain on absorbant paper.

Arrange on a serving platter, scattering on sea salt and some lemon zest. Serve as part of an antipasto platter, hot or warm (though they are also nice cold).



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