‘Mustard Sardines’ – p.108

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Since the adventure with Curried Sardines and Mango Chutney, the idea of sardines for lunch has felt constantly appealing. Oily, salty, with something extra added, then refreshed under the grill; what’s not to like?

One of the problems with writing a blog like this is that, when you hit on a recipe you really love (there have been several so far) you feel you’re rather cheating yourself if you go back and make it again, knowing that you have well over 300 new entries to go. It feels like you’re not only protracting the entire project needlessly, but doing so using the very same book the entire thing is about.

On the other hand, the benefit of this is that you’re forced to find something else to make. Feel like sardines? Flick to ‘Canned Fish’ (p.104) and tick another recipe off the list. Perfect.

Well, almost perfect; the one other three minute sardine recipe available to me sounded almost too simple and strange to bother with. A tin of sardines, slathered in a worrying amount of grainy mustard, then flashed under the grill and popped on some bread. Would two entire tablespoons of mustard not overpower a small tin of oily fish? Would it not make quite the most unappealing lunch possible?

In the event, the meal felt more than the sum of its parts. The sheer mustardiness of that much mustard was well balanced by the fish and a hefty squeeze of lemon juice, and a dense, sourdough rye bread also cut through, providing a dark, earthy note as a foil to all the punchy, acidic flavours on top.

Such a lunch is an argument for trying every recipe in a book. If the author is trustworthy enough, and the recipes have been tested diligently, the meals will at the very least work, however counterintuitive they may seem on paper.

As a brief aside, I feel I should also say a few words on bread: those who have read the blog regularly will have noted that I almost always have a loaf of homemade bread on the go, often from a sourdough method, but sometimes simply a yeasted loaf. A few years ago, thanks to a dearth of interesting bread where I lived (Leyton, in East London. I gather the situation has improved slightly of late) I resolved to learn to bake my own, and I urge you to do the same. I started with THIS stunningly simple recipe from James Morton, and then bought his BOOK. I also attended the E5 Bakehouse sourdough class, which helped further my understanding of some of the processes.

Bread baking is certainly not fast food, but it’s also undemanding of your time (each stage of baking a loaf is generally a few minutes’ work, though often hours apart) and is very much its own reward in both the financial and gastronomic senses. Your own, home-baked bread can make a quick, store cupboard lunch into a special one, just as it did here, and I highly recommend everyone to try, at least once.

Buy your own copy of Nigel Slater’s ‘Real Fast Food’ HERE.

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