Sunday, July 22, 2007

Supper with Mrs Noah

Half the country seems to be flooded. Thousands of people are camped out in church halls contemplating the misery of the destruction. The water rose so fast in most cases that they could save very little. People have lost everything. The RAF has been airlifting stranded citizens to safety and sometimes it has been touch and go – the biggest lifesaving exercise in peacetime Britain.

I know we go on a lot about the weather - being an island we are constantly subject to its whims - but this year has been particularly whimsical. All that stuff in the supermarkets for barbequing is a bit of a joke as the clouds darken and the lightning flashes. I started thinking about the Ark and how Mrs Noah doesn’t get a namecheck. Noah does, as do Ham, Shem and Japheth, but we don’t know the names of their wives. Bet they had to do all the cooking though. So when they were fed up with pulses and the odd giraffeburger I was wondering what they might have had for supper.

Maybe some fat silver sardines hot pickled and flecked with chilli, to cheer up those dreich and streaming days while they waited for the dove to return with the olive branch. This dish from Valencia in Spain which adds a little shelf life to the sardines would be perfect.

Escabeche de Sardinas
Serves 4 as a starter
Preheat the oven to 170ºC/325ºF

900g/2 lbs fresh sardines, filleted
2-3 garlic cloves, skinned and sliced finely
1-2 bay leaves, crumbled
Salt and pepper
150 ml/¼ pint white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil
1 dried chilli, de-seeded and torn into small pieces

Layer the sardine fillets in a shallow dish, sprinkling with garlic, salt and pepper and crumbled bay leaf as you go.

Bring the vinegar to the boil with the same volume of water and pour around the fish. Drizzle with the oil, sprinkle over the chilli, cover with lid or foil shiny side down and bake for 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the fish. Serve at room temperature with a plain potato salad and some fresh leaves.

This recipe is from a lovely book about Iberian food
The Food of Spain and Portugal: A Regional Celebration By Elisabeth Luard
Kyle Cathie Ltd


Joanna said...

MMmmm delicious. I remember years ago (decades ago, actually) making something very similar with mackerel fillets and home-made raspberry vinegar. It was the summer I bought my first house, and I had no money at all, and nothing to cook on. So it was the mackerel fillets and salad, or eggs boiled in the kettle with bread (no toaster). I remember being completely happy.

But also no blog, so I don't remember how I did the mackerel - I'll try this instead ... thanks for sharing


June said...

Oh, happy days Joanna! My own feeling is that this recipe needs a dash of something sweet and/or fruity - the raspberry vinegar might just do the trick. As would something gooseberryish. Let me know how you go on.

HerbanGirl said...

I just read about the flooding in England and thought of you (isn't the blogosphere funny?), so I popped over. Glad to see your spirits are up at least! I love to see recipes that use small fish like this, it's something I didn't grow up with so it seems like adventurous food to me!

Take care over there. :-)

June said...

Thank you HG for your support - I'm fine where I am but Gloucester and Tewkesbury are under water, their cathedrals islands, and the Thames will not reach its peak until later tonight, with Oxford under threat from the rising waters. Crops cannot be lifted, potatoes are immersed, the soft fruit is destroyed, sheep attempt to swim for it and don't make it. Sunshine today, but more rain tomorrow and for the forseeable future.

Valli said...

My relatives live in Northern England so are not subject to the flooding, only the non ending rainy weather of this year. The weather is the one thing in life we have no control over. We live in a semi-arrid climate in the British Columbia, Canada interior. My daughter will be attending university on the coast in the fall so she will own her first set of rain boots and rain gear. On the coast if you have plans to go hiking or boating that day you go if it rains or not. You might not see a sunny day for weeks. "When life gives you lemons you make lemonade". Great recipe by the way as well!!!

Figs Olives Wine said...

June, I've been so sorry to hear about all the flooding you guys have been dealing with. These sardines are something I've got to try. I had home-cured fresh anchovies when I was in Florence last, and these look like a great follow-up. Fresh sardines are tough but much easier to find than fresh anchovies over here. Americans aren't really into either, which I think I should start a campaign to reverse! Thanks for the recipe.

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