Cal Stamenov, Executive Chef at the award-winning Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley, California, shared this inventive and delicious seafood recipe with us when he led a Chef Walk at our Farm Stand.
Fillet the sardines: Using a sharp knife, cut off the head of the fish and run the knife down both sides of the backbone (alternate tip: have the fish market fillet and clean them for you). You should end up with 12 fillets of semi-boneless fish.
Place the fillets on a sheet pan, skin side down. Season with salt and pepper.
In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Place sardine fillets side by side in the pan, skin side up. Sauté until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Carefully remove the fillets from the pan with a spatula and place on a clean sheet pan, skin side up. Cool in the refrigerator.
Place onion and thyme in the bottom of an airtight container. Lay the sardine fillets on top and cover with olive oil to preserve. (Keeps up to 1 week in the refrigerator.)
Boil the potatoes in salted water until soft. In a food processor or blender, purée the potatoes with 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil until smooth. Combine the basil and potato purées, vinegar and shallots. Mix well.
Using a pastry bag, pipe the basil potatoes approximately the length of a sardine fillet onto each of 6 dinner plates. Lay two fillets over the potatoes on each plate. Sprinkle with garnishes: black olives, chopped rosemary, shallots, chives, tomatoes and a stem of rosemary. Drizzle with sherry vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil.