Once in decline, fresh domestic sardines are making a big, splashy comeback. Local fishmongers like Wild Edibles are packing them into their display cases like, yep, sardines. These silver-bellied members of the herring family are loaded with fat (the good omega-3 kind), not to mention flavor. They’re terrific grilled or home-cured and tossed into a perky winter salad as in this recipe from Frank Castronovo of Frankies 457 Court Street Spuntino.
FRANK CASTRONOVO’S CURED SARDINES AND PUNTARELLE SALAD
1/4 cup sea salt
2 cups white-wine vinegar
1 dozen sardines, scaled and filleted (ask your fishmonger to do it for you if you like)
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 lemons, zested, plus juice of 1
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
1/2 T. ground white pepper
1 bunch puntarelle (or chicory)
1 blood orange, segmented
To cure the sardines: Pour salt into one medium bowl, vinegar into another. (1) Coat the sardines with salt and let them sit on a large plate or tray for 10 minutes. Remove any excess salt from sardines and dip them in the vinegar, (2) then lay them on another large plate for 15 minutes. For the marinade: In a medium casserole dish or bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, half the lemon juice, parsley, and white pepper.
(3) Add the sardines to the marinade so that they’re completely covered. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours. Remove from refrigerator, and on a serving platter, combine the cured sardines with puntarelle and blood-orange segments. Dress the salad with remaining lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the marinade, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and season with salt and white pepper.