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FRIED SARDINES I lived in Paris for a number of years and fell in love with the poireaux vinaigrette, a classic French dressing made with mustard, vinegar and oil that works very well with fried sardines. I have added a pinch of spice here which brings together the oily fish with the creamy, softened leeks.

  • Yield: 4
  • Total Time: 15 Minutes


  • 12 sardines, cleaned (see here)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 4 leeks, trimmed and sliced into 10-cm/4-inch lengths
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 sprigs of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground piment d’Espelette
  • 25 g/1 oz/2 tbsp butter
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
How to Make It
  1. With a sharp knife, cut diagonal slashes 2 cm/¾ inch apart in the flesh of the sardines on both sides. Put 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic in a shallow dish, add the sardines and turn them over until they are coated in the oil. Set aside.
  2. Put the leeks in a frying pan (skillet), just cover with lightly salted water and add the butter. Put a lid on the pan and steam the leeks over a medium heat for 10–12 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent them sticking to the pan. Lift the leeks out of the water with tongs and cut them in half lengthwise.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk the mustard, vinegar, parsley and 3 tablespoons of olive oil together in a bowl with a fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Place a large frying pan over a high heat and fry the oil-coated sardines for 2–3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from the pan.
  5. Dress the leeks with the mustard mixture, divide between four serving plates and lay the sardines on top. Dust with a little piment d’Espelette and drizzle over a little more olive oil. Season to taste with salt.

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