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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.