Fritto di Sardine

Four fried whole sardines with charred lemon and dipping sauce
Photo by Meg Baggott / Food Styling by Katherine Rosen

Courtesy Cesare Casella, chef/dean of Italian Studies at the International Culinary Center, New York City

These whole, fried sardines melt in your mouth. Use a squeeze of lemon and the freshest fish you can find. “I like cooking with sardines in a simple way to bring out the quality of the fish,” says legendary Tuscan-born chef Casella. “The key to this dish is the freshness of the ingredients and the quality of the frying oil.”

Feast of the Seven Fishes
  • 1 quart peanut or grapeseed oil, for frying
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons fine cornmeal
  • Coarse salt and fresh-ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound cleaned sardines
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed slightly
  • 1 sprig fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 sprig fresh sage
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Fill a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch over halfway to top with oil. Clip on a thermometer and heat to 325°F.

Combine flour and cornmeal on plate, and season with salt and pepper. Place sardines in a perforated or fine-mesh strainer. Toss with flour-cornmeal mixture. Shake off excess.

Place sardines in fryer basket or on a mesh strainer, and slide carefully into hot oil. Fry, stirring to cook evenly, just until golden brown and crisp. After 2 minutes, add herbs.

Remove sardines with spider strainer. Place on sheet pan covered with wire rack or paper towels to drain. Season with salt. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. Serves 4.

Pair It

BiancaVigna NV Brut (Prosecco). Refreshing, fun and refined, this crowd-pleasing sparkler offers ripe Bartlett pear, green apple and a hint of nectarine drop. Crisp acidity and a lively perlage give it a vibrant edge.

Published on December 7, 2018