If you told me at age ten that I would have a bad case of ‘sardine obsession’ in my twenties, I would have laughed in your face AND rolled my eyes. ‘Sardines are gross!’ I would have told you. But here I am, finding sneaky ways to bring sardines up in conversation, looking up sardine recipes at work and enjoying them for more lunches and dinners than I’d care to say. For anyone who aligns with my ten year old self, let me tell you, they really aren’t gross at all. In fact, they are quite delicious, versatile, healthy and cheap (and sustainable and low in mercury content)! Canned sardines are not overly salty or fishy, like anchovies, and actually taste more like a mild canned tuna. Grilled fresh sardines are also delicious but this post focuses on these, which I found in the grocery store:
I love smoked fish. When I was a kid, my Dad, on occasion, would bring home smoked tuna from the local seafood store. While I wouldn’t have touched sardines with ten foot pole at that time, I was totally into this smoked tuna. Now that I know I like sardines, I knew I would love these too.
I think my original obsession began with the No Reservations ‘Brittany’ episode where Tony eats sardines that are jarred standing up in oil. I never thought preserved fish could be gourmet or elegantly prepared or special in any way- until I watched this episode.
And here I am, obsessing about a can of fish. Anyway, I ate them on water crackers with fresh squeezed lemon, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of sriracha. It was great.
Tomorrow I will try them on a toasted bagel with olive oil and capers. Yum.
This recipe is borrowed from one of my favorite brunch restaurants in the whole world, The Friendly Toast in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. They serve up piping hot, oniony home fries with some of the best egg scrambles I’ve ever had, all with tattooed, surly service in a warehouse space doused with kitsch overload (we’re talking mechanical leopards, garage sale oil paintings and metallic vinyl tables and chairs). The absolute standout of their offerings, however, is their Orleans Fries. I would (and have) considered a weekend trip up to Portsmouth just for these fries. As that’s not exactly the most practical of plans, I make them on occasion at home and everyone who has tasted them agrees: the combination is a little wacky but they are ooh so very good. I was lucky enough to receive some organic gold sweet potatoes in my farm share this week:
Fresh Sweet Potatoes from Lancaster Farm Fresh
Saturday Afternoon Sweet Potato Chips
Preheat oven to 415 degrees. Wash sweet potatoes thoroughly, scrubbing when necessary. Trim bad spots with a knife. I like to leave the skin on, but feel free to remove it with a vegetable peeler. Cut sweet potatoes into very thin, chip-like slices. It’s my thought that one person can eat 3/4 to 1 large potato’s worth of chips, so buy potatoes accordingly. Coat a baking sheet in olive oil (I use a spray). Arrange the potato slices in a single layer on the tray and coat them with another light layer of oil. This will help them get crispy but saves the calories, effort and clean-up of deep frying, which is how The Friendly Toast does it. Bake the chips in the oven for about 30 minutes, flipping them after 20 minutes. When they have browned, toss them on a plate or in a bowl with a teaspoon or so of brown sugar. The hot potatoes will melt the brown sugar into gooey goodness. Add a few dashes of Tobasco sauce and keep it near by if you want more heat. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and enjoy. The combination of sweet, spicy and cool creaminess is unique, delicious and easy to make at home. I suggest you try the originals at The Friendly Toast if you ever find yourself in Portsmouth- it’s an experience not to be missed!