Fettuccine with Sardines and Fennel

I spent half of today pacing a freezing cold dock muttering obscenities, mostly to myself. Between extinguishing small fires and shivering, I thought about how I wanted to cook the eight sardines that I had in a cooler in my trunk. I am not sure if it was the cold or the frustration, but by the time I was headed home, I knew that I would make some pasta. I also had an inexplicable need for fennel. Fennel and sardines are buddies, promise. This dish confirms that only good things happen when I give into my food cravings.

Fettuccine with Sardines and FennelĀ 

2 lbs fresh sardines


6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp red pepper flakes

3 Tbsp minced shallots

1 large fennel bulb cored and diced

1/4 cup chopped fennel fronds

1 lb fettuccine

2 tsp lemon zest

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs

1. Clean and coarsely chop sardines. See the videos below for instructions.

2. Bring 6 quarts of well salted water to boil in a large pot.

3. Meanwhile, heat Ā¼ cup of the olive oil in another large pot over medium heat. Add the red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant. Add shallots and cook until translucent. Add diced fennel bulb and cook, stirring often, until softened. Add the chopped sardines and cook until all of the sardine pieces are completely opaque. Remove from heat.

3. Cook the pasta 2 minutes less than what is called for on the package instructions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

4. Fry the fresh breadcrumbs in olive oil over medium heat until they are crispy and brown.

5. Add the pasta and reserved pasta water to the fennel/sardine mixture and toss to coat over medium heat. Add 3 Tbsp of olive oil, half the fennel fronds, half the lemon zest, and half the breadcrumbs. Toss to combine. Remove from heat and top with the remaining lemon zest, fennel fronds, and breadcrumbs.

Gutting Sardines!

Now, I am by no means an expert in breaking down a fish. I always get the job done and I generally have some fun in the process. See below for my questionable methods.

Method one, for those of us who don’t like ripping heads off of fish.

Method two, for those of us who do.

A bonus video, in which I film dear Emily attempting (and owning) method two.

Sardine Week Returns

Just a quick post to officially announce that we will all have fresh sardines tomorrow! I have had a really special (hellish) week, and I am very sorry that it has taken me so long to post. I will be uploading a video of me ripping the head and guts out of a sardine with my bare hands, as well as a recipe later on this evening.


In the meantime, here are the links to past sardine posts:

Sardine Recipes

Sardine Wrap-up

Sardine Wrap-up

Every time I drop off something new, I get a little nervous that Siren subscribers won’t like it. Things I never want to see: an inbox full of I HATE MY FISH emails. Yikes. When that new fish is also a little bit high maintenance, I worry that it will waste away in the freezer. Sardines fell into both categories: new and slightly high maintenance. Siren subscribers rose to the occasion and made some delicious looking meals.

Photo courtesy of http://nomnompaleo.com

Once again, Michelle over at Nom Nom Paleo made and beautifully documented a tasty dinner. Her Broiled Herb-Stuffed Sardines look incredible, and when I read that she brushed the herb-stuffed sardines with BACON GREASE before broiling, I knew that they must taste even better than they look. Damn.

Grilled cheese genius and maker of heavenly fried pickles, The GrilledCheezGuy, butchered and prepared his sardines like a pro. Apparently, the finished product involved red curry. I’m an idiot for curry.



@EdibleSF Sardines a la plancha – a la Contigo – sorta kinda. @sirenseasa instagr.am/p/QEEkG/
@girardinl Ate home-cured (&gutted) @sirenseasa sardines on @lavictoriasf bagel. Feelin hyperlocal…’cept for the Philly cream cheese
@miritcohen @SirenSeaSA the sardines were so delicious! And fun to clean too :) looking forward to my next fish butchery lesson.
@dirt_and_beer Sardines from @SirenSeaSA, ready for the broiler. yfrog.com/od5wobj
@marshmelones @SirenSeaSA Sardines were great! Grilled as you suggested. Thank you for coming to the South Bay!
@marshmelones Hello fishies. Fresh sardines from @SirenSeaSA. @lerrie is taking one for the team and cleaning them. pic.twitter.com/wVNIBJTE



Sardines at last!

After weeks and weeks of just missing them, we have sardines! They are large and lovely. I ate one for dinner. SO GOOD.


The sardines will arrive whole, but DO NOT BE AFRAID. Sardines are a great entry-level whole fish to butcher. I am linking to an article that gives three fantastic options for preparing fresh sardines. In all three cases, the fish can be either gutted or headed and gutted. I asked my friend Tony Rivas to let me film him prepping some sardines. Tony has been managing a fresh fish processing plant for over 30 years. The guy knows his fish. BONUS: A new way to use a box cutter!


Sardine Recipes

This week’s recipes are from Edible San Francisco. Bruce Cole, the editor and publisher, helped form, launch, and get the word out about Siren. He has been a considerable support and very generously sent me this great article by Molly Watson. You have THREE options. Cured, cured and marinated, and grilled. I dream of grilled sardines. So salty and delicious!


Link to Edible San Francisco article