Sardines in a peppercorn crust

Sardines in a peppercorn crust


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Fresh sardines are always bursting with flavour, and here they are given a crunchy coating of lemon juice, olive oil, dill, garlic and mixed peppercorns, then grilled with aromatic rosemary.

Pat Alburey

Serves: 4 

  • 8 large fresh sardines, about 500g in total
  • 1 teaspoon mixed peppercorns
  • a small bunch of dill
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 lemons
  • salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 small sprigs rosemary
  • 4 crisp lettuce leaves
  • 8 sprigs watercress

Preparation:25min  ›  Cook:6min  ›  Extra time:10min  ›  Ready in:41min 

  1. Preheat the griller to the highest setting. Cut along the belly of each sardine with kitchen scissors, then pull out the insides. Rinse the fish inside and out, gently rubbing off the scales with your fingers. Dry the sardines on paper towels.
  2. Crush the peppercorns and put into a small bowl.
  3. Chop the dill, peel and crush the garlic and add both to the bowl. Finely grate the rind of one lemon into the bowl. Add some salt and the olive oil and mix.
  4. Put a sprig of rosemary inside each fish, then brush each side with some of the dill-peppercorn mixture, reserving any leftover mixture. Leave the fish to marinate for 5–10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, finely shred the lettuce leaves, rinse and dry the watercress and arrange on plates. Cut four wedges from the other lemon, remove any pips and put one wedge on each plate.
  6. Thread each sardine lengthways onto a metal skewer, then grill for 2–3 minutes on each side.
  7. Slide the sardines off the skewers and arrange two on each plate on top of the salad. Spoon over the reserved dill mixture and serve.

Extra marination

If you have the time, you can spread the dill-peppercorn paste over the sardines an hour or two in advance and leave them to marinate in the refrigerator.


As an alternative to grilling, try the skewered sardines cooked on a very hot barbecue.


good source of vitamins B group and E.

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