What can I say, my wife loves sardines. This is how we discovered the majesty of Norwegian mackerel–the fish market near us doesn’t carry them, but they suggested the mackerel as an oily, albeit larger, substitute. I love sardines because they’re so small that you’re not confronted with a lot of complicated preparation options, just grill ’em and eat ’em, bones and all (once Elizabeth asked me about eating the bones and I responded with “why do you think they’re so high in calcium?”). If you’re on the West Side, you can grab fresh sardines at the Whole Food on 97th and Columbus and at the Fairway in Harlem. Two fabulous establishments, simply put.
Lately, we’ve been exploring polenta. I think Elizabeth must have northern Italian blood somewhere in her lineage because she likes it so much. The instant kind is very easy to prepare, second in simplicity maybe to couscous. It goes so well with grated Pecorino and garlic, it’s easy to mix together, less than 10 minutes all told. We like onions on pretty much everything, so of course, I sautéed a bunch and coated the fishies and polenta. In Costa Rica, they put ‘onion gravy’ on plantains and this is pretty close to that. Whole fish are nothing to be afraid of friends, nor strange side dishes. Even with these little sardies, ask your fishmonger to clean them to make your life easier, because gutting them is a bit much–but ask them to keep the heads intact. Until then, friends, cook on!