Up here in land locked Piedmont, the 7 fishes tradition is not really celebrated by native Piemontese, but it isn't to say that fish isn't a focus now or other times of the year, as most all Italians love fish. The Piemontese particularly love their anchovies, which find their way into their traditional bagna cauda and just about any other winter vegetable you might imagine. Last year I shared a simple traditional anchovy antipasto, whose recipe you'll find here. This year it's another antipasto, but featuring fresh sardines. If your only experience with sardines is thones in the can, I do reccomend trying them fresh. I can still remember the first tie I had them grilled at a tiny cafe at the end of the Algarve in Portugal and they were such a revelation. This simple dish has a few variations but I like the simplicity and mildness of this one. This recipe does need to sit a couple of days to absorb the flavors. There's still time to get these made before you plan to serve them. These lightly pickled fish will get the juices flowing for the rest of the feast that is to come without overpowering or sitting too heavy.
Sardines Piemontese Style
1/2# (250g) fresh sardines, cleaned and gutted
flour to dredge the fish in
Olive oil to pan fry
1 cup white wine
1/2 c white wine vinegar
1/4- 1/2 red onion sliced
After you have your cleaned sardines, make sure to pat dry if you havejust washed them.
Dredge the fish in some white plain flour and set aside. I shook them up in a bag with flour last time and found that to be too much flour, so go easy on the flour. A quick pass throught the plate with the four on both sides of the fish is plenty. Sprinkle a bit of salt over all the fish.
Heat your skillet up and add a small to medium amount of oil. You don't want them to stick nor to you want them supper oily.
Once hot, add your fish and allow to lightly brown on both sides.
emove from pan and allow to cool to room temerature.
In a small sauce pan combine the wine, vinegar and onion.
Bring to a boil and gently simmer for a few minutes till the onion is sft, but still has some body to it.
Remove from hear. Add a genrous pinch of salt and pepper. Let col to room temperture before pouring over your single layer of fish tht is at room temperature as well. I like to use a shallow tupperware type container
Cover in an airtight container and refrigerate 2 days. You might want to scoop up the liquid from one corner of the pan and drizzle it over the fish once or twice while they are rsting in the refridgerator
Serve 2-3 per person at room temperature, with or with out garnish.
At home it is usually served, as is.