The Best Beginner Recipe for Cooking With Fresh Sardines
#SeafoodSunday/ Sardines

The Best Beginner Recipe for Cooking With Fresh Sardines

Hi, Seafoodies! 

It’s time for another delectable edition of our Seafood Sunday series! 

Today we’re serving up a fresh take on grilled sardines. Despite their small size, this little fish pack a punch of bold flavor when prepared with finesse. And who better to guide us through this recipe than our esteemed friend, Chef Barton Seaver? 

Originally featured in his cookbook, The Joy of Seafood, this grilled sardines with charred rosemary vinaigrette recipe is a testament to his ingenuity—and we’re thrilled to share it with you!

Renowned for his mastery of seafood, Chef Barton specializes in crafting dishes that celebrate the often-overlooked treasures of the sea, such as sardines. 

Aside from being quite tasty, these oily little fish contain an abundance of essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and protein. Adding sardines into your diet is a great way to bolster heart health, fortify bones and even support your immune system.

If you’ve never cooked (or even eaten) fresh sardines before and don’t know what to look for at the store, fear not. Ask the fishmonger at the seafood counter to gut and scale your sardine selection, which will make preparation a breeze.

Be sure to accompany your dish with the leftover vinaigrette, a sprinkle of chopped herbs and lemon wedges for an extra burst of flavor! The dressing is a star in its own right, doubling as a versatile drizzle for quick salads and a go-to marinade when preparing seafood of all kinds.  

Whether you’re embracing the pescatarian lifestyle, a Mediterranean diet or simply seeking a nutrient-rich, budget-friendly meal that doesn’t skimp on taste, give these grilled sardines a try! 

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Grilled Whole Sardines with Charred Rosemary Vinaigrette

Thanks to our friend noted chef and seafood expert Barton Seaver for providing this recipe for grilled whole sardines with charred rosemary from his cookbook “The Joy of Seafood.” Make sure you serve with the remaining vinaigrette, chopped herbs and lemon wedges!



Ingredients – Charred Rosemary Vinaigrette

  • 6 stalks fresh rosemary
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 2 tablespoons. Red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt, to taste

Ingredients – Grilled Sardines

  • 2 pounds whole sardines scaled and gutted
  • ¼ cup chopped herbs, such as chervil, parsley or tarragon
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges


Instructions – Grilled Sardines

  1. Pour half of the vinaigrette over the fish and let them marinate for 1 – 8 hours.
  2. Prepare a charcoal grill with a medium fire, concentrating the hot coals on one side of the kettle.
  3. Working in batches, remove half of the fish from the marinade and place them on the grill over the hot coals.
  4. Cook until the edges of the fish begin to crisp, about 2 – 3 minutes.
  5. Gently flip the fish and brush with any remaining marinade. Lift the entire grill grate and rotate it so the fish rest opposite the hot coals.
  6. Cover the grill and continue to cook over this indirect heat until the fish are done, another 2-3 minutes.
  7. Repeat with the remaining fish.
  8. Serve the fish drizzled with the remaining vinaigrette, chopped herbs and lemon wedges.

*Note – If using a gas grill, preheat all burners to medium-high. Place the sardines on one side of the hot grates. Once they begin to char around the edges, turn off the burner directly under the fish and cover the grill to finish cooking.

Instructions – Charred Rosemary Vinaigrette

Serving: ½ Cup

  1. Toast the rosemary under a broiler until fragrant and crisp, about 5 – 7 minutes.
  2. Remove the leaves and mash them with the garlic, vinegar, and mustard to make a smooth paste.
  3. Whisk in the olive oil and season with salt.


Recipe courtesy of Barton Seaver. Reprinted with permission from “The Joy of Seafood.”

  • Author: Dish on Fish
  • Category: Sardines

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