Smoked Sardine Bruchetta

This Saturday 13th we are holding a supper club aboard the Volharding. We will be making this recipe together. Book your tickets: Forgotten Fish Supper Club

Pilchards are oily, full of omega-3 and take very well to smoking. The preserved lemon cuts through the full flavour and oiliness with a powerful twang, making this dish a great pre-starter or canapé. It’s really easy to hot smoke at home. You don’t need any special equipment. In this recipe we convert a BBQ into a smoker.

Sustainability info: The MCS says that pilchards and sardines are normally caught using purse seine nets and pelagic trawls, which are very selective when used to collect shoaling species. Cornish sardines are the best choice due to their fishing standards. Cornish sardines are in season from late June until the following February.

Waste not: Fish tastes better cooked on the bone and is easier to fillet. The meat just falls off the bone, leaving no waste. In this recipe we smoke the fish whole so that we get the maximum yield from the sardines.

Ingredients and equipment

4 sardines or pilchards, wash off their scales and gut
1 preserved lemon, flesh scraped and composted, skin sliced thinly
100g samphire, picked clean and washed
Handfull of chopped parsley
Stale bread - Cleo if you've got some
300g earl grey tea
BBQ and charcoal or wide saucepan with lid
Tin foil

Here’s 2 methods for hot smoking fish

1) BBQ Smoker

Buy lump wood charcoal. It is prepared naturally and has no added chemicals that will taint your food. Place 3-4 coals on a gas stove until they are lit. Be careful if you have a fire alarm. Otherwise light them as you normally would. Place the coals evenly in the bottom of the BBQ. Cover with a sheet of slightly scrunched foil and sprinkle the tea over the top. Put the grill on top, followed by the fish. Cover tightly with foil or a lid and leave for 15-20 minutes.

2) Saucepan Smoker

Choose a wide, thick based pan. Place it on a high heat and put the tea in the bottom. Wait until it starts smoking plumes and then turn the heat right down. Cover with slightly scrunched foil and place the fish on top. Cover tightly and leave for 15-20 minutes.

Method – serves 8 as a canapé or 4 as a starter

1) Check your fish is cooked by edging a knife into the fillet alongside the spine. If the meat pulls away leaving clean bones then it is done. Take the fish and pull the fillets off the spine completely. Be careful not to break the guts. Pull the fillets into pieces and put them in a bowl. Add the preserved lemon, parsley and douse with olive oil. Season to taste.

2) Heat a little oil or butter and gently fry the samphire for 2 minutes until it’s just hot. Meanwhile, grill the  bread either in small pieces for canapés or large pieces for bruchetta.

3) Mix the samphire in with the fish and serve on the toasts with a squeeze of lemon if necessary.

Rich healthy and yummy. Enjoy.

Other notes:

  • Marsh samphire is in season from May to September.
  • Pilchards are sardines that are bigger than 15cm. They are caught in the Atlantic and Mediterranean sea.
  • We get our sustainable fish info from the MSC.


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