Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sardines & Pickles


Tinned sardines always remind me of a poem from A Book of Milliganimals by Spike Milligan. 

A baby Sardine
Saw her first submarine:
She was scared and watched through a peephole.

‘Oh, come, come, come,’
Said the Sardine’s mum,
‘It’s only a tinful of people.’

Aged nine, this formed the basis of my appreciation of poetry for some years to follow. Plus I loved his illustrations. Spike was (and still is) an institution. The epitaph on his gravestone, written in Gaelic, famously reads “I told you I was ill...”.  And since we’re doing food, here’s a sandwich sketch from a 1982 TV show. If you don’t think it’s funny, I’m sorry, I can’t help you. 

Here’s what you need: 100ml cider or wine vinegar, 2 tspns sugar, grind of salt, a juniper berry, a few peppercorns, a dried chilli, a bay leaf, fresh dill, a banana shallot (√©chalion), tinned sardines in oil, brown bread

Make the pickle 30 minutes or more before you prepare the sardines. Put the vinegar, sugar, salt and all the spices except the dill in a small pan, bring to the boil, then turn off the heat. Finely slice the shallot into rings, arrange in a dish and pour over the vinegar mix. Chop the dill, keeping some pretty shoots for garnish, and add to the pickle. Leave to cool.

Slice the bread quite thickly and toast on both sides. Use a fork to lift the sardines out of the oil and arrange on the toast. Mash them a bit so they stay on. Spoon over some pickled shallots and sprinkle with some of the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with dill shoots if you’re feeling pretty.

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