Sardines are a fantastic sustainable catch available almost all year round, packed full of flavour and goodness. They cook really well on a barbecue or chargrill, but a very hot grill will also do the job. The pickled vegetables bring some acidity to balance the richness of the fish and are great with all oily fish. What’s more they can be made well advance and kept in the fridge for up to one month. If you’re put off by eating the sardines on the bone ask your fishmonger to butterfly them.

Ingredients

8 whole sardines gutted and cleaned

For the pickled vegetables
2 carrots (peeled)
2 red peppers
2 banana shallots (peeled)

For the pickling liquor
150ml white wine
150ml white wine vinegar
150ml water
150g sugar

For the smoked paprika mayonnaise
3 egg yolks
25ml white wine vinegar
10g smoked paprika
200ml rapeseed oil
10g salt

Method

​First make the pickled vegetables.

Slice the vegetables in to thin strips, about 4cm long. Boil all of the pickling liquor ingredients in a pan for 2 minutes until the sugar is fully dissolved, then pour the hot liquor over the sliced vegetables (making sure the vegetables are submerged). Leave to cool, then cover and store in the fridge.

For the smoked paprika mayonnaise

Place all of the ingredients except the oil into a food processor and blend until smooth. Gradually add the oil until the mixture thickens and forms the mayonnaise. You can keep this refrigerated for up to 3 days.

To cook the sardines

Pre heat your grill to its highest setting. Brush the sardines with some oil and season with salt. Place them on an oiled tray and cook under the hot grill for 2-3 minutes on each side. The size of the sardines will ultimately effect the cooking time. The sardine is perfectly cooked when a little crisp on the outside and the flesh is moist and pulls easily away for the bone.

To serve

Place the sardines( 2 per person) on warm plates. Remove the pickled vegetables from the pickling liquor and drain on some kitchen towel. Place a large spoonful of the vegetables next to the sardines as well as a generous helping of the smoked paprika mayonnaise. Enjoy as a starter or light lunch.