Now I can’t say that I have ever really enjoyed a sardine. I can’t even say that I’ve tried one. But I think that goes back to my brief experience with a fish bone lodged in my throat. However, today was the day we demolished my fear of the whole fish.
George had been coveting sardines since we saw them last week at Mitsuwa, and lucky for us while perusing our favorite Chicago Whole Foods we came across some very large ones left over from someone’s very special order. And guess what? The Monterey Bay Aquarium supported our sustainable seafood choice.
Our recipe comes from George’s mom and is something he grew up eating. Sardines or “Mathi” in Malayalam(the main language of Kerala, India) were first cleaned and gutted. Not the cleanest job, but actually a lot easier then I had expected.
Next we dredged them in spices and set our work station up for some quick frying action. About 2 minutes on each side and they were ready!
Some rice and other condiments seemed necessary to complement the sardines so I turned to what I deem my best purchase ever, the sanyo rice cooker. I feel as though everyone should own a rice cooker. In fact, I am seriously looking into giving my secret santa a rice cooker for Christmas. Just throw in whatever you want with the rice and watch it turn into Uncle Ben.
We also decided to add pickled onions to compliment our dish and hoped ours would come close to the original recipe. Even though we lacked all the preferred ingredients a true cook from Kerala would have, our onions still tasted great.
As we prepared to eat I thought to myself, “This is it! It’s you or the fish. You can do it, those tiny bones are no match for your vicious incisors and bone-grinding molars.”
As I pondered the risk of choking, I decided to remove any bones that blatantly taunted me before preceding to peel the moist meat away from the rounded sides of the fish. I placed a piece with potential bones into my mouth carefully and as I continued to chomp precariously, I realized that the whole sardine was, in fact quite amazing. High in omega-3 fatty acids, Calcium and Vitamin D, I determined my meal was worth the potential risk and my fear, completely unnecessary.