Monday, 13 January 2014

Stuffed sardine butterfly (Sarde alla beccafico)

 About the food:

This New Year, one of my main agenda for myself and my family is to eat healthy, and to eat more fish, which I neglected at large. With our resolution of eating more fishes, I have chanced upon sardine fish, which my husband got last week. I never had sardines before, and a little research pleasantly surprised me. Sardine, which is an oily fish, is considered one of the most nutritious fishes in the world, being a  rich source of omega-3, various vitamins including vitamin D and B-12, and packed with proteins. So, happy I was, and ventured around for some interesting recipe. This recipe follows an Italian recipe, called 'sarde alla beccafico': so called since the plump butterflied fishes, with their tails sticking out, resembles the little birds called beccafico, found in Italy.

Sardines are very soft, and cook very quickly. For this dish, preparing the fish fillet can be a little messy, unless you are lucky enough to get a fishmonger done it for you. For preparing the fillet, you need a very sharp knife, and a delicate pairs of hands, and a brave-heart to deal with the mess. To begin with, chop the fish heads off, and then with a sharp knife, carefully slit the body, from neck to the tail. Carefully remove the gut from the fish, and slowly run your finger through the body of the fish to open it up. Pull the back bone out, it would not be very difficult. To take out all the other bones, which you might still find, use your fingers, or better still, you can use a twiser. Wash the fish fillets in a bowl of water carefully. when ready, they should look as below.

I really liked this dish, and this would make a fantastic snacks for tea or in a cocktail party. It would also be a great main dish, served with salads and bread.

Preparation time: 40 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Makes 4


8 medium sized sardines
Juices from 1 big lemons
2 tablespoon of black pepper powder
2 tablespoon of olive oil
1/3 cup vegetable oil for frying
1 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
1 cup of medium cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup of chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup of plain flour
 salt, according to taste

1. Prepare the fish fillets, as per instructions given above. Marinate the fish fillets with the lemon juice, salt and pepper for about 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, 2 tablespoon of olive oil, black pepper, salt and parsley leaves together. Blend then in a food processor or a mixer to form a fine mixture. Mix the chopped garlic with the mixture by hand. Blend the mixture in a bowl with the eggs, until it becomes a bit sticky ( and not very runny).

4. Make small roll of the mixture, about the length of the fish fillets, and pat it on a fish fillet, and put another on top. Cover each outer side of the fish lightly with flour.

5. Heat the oil in a non-stick flat bottom pan. Carefully put each of the prepared fishes on the pan for shallow frying. Turn the fish on the over side after 5 minutes or when the fish is brown and crispy.

6. Serve them warm on a bed of green salads and enjoy!


  1. It sounds Yummy!! I will follow the recipe with betki or basa fish...hope that would work out well too. Will let you know.

  2. It would be even more delicious with bhetki:) share how it goes!