So, here’s a recipe from the Murcian cookery class.

Murcian Recipe – Sardinas En Salmuera


  • Sardines Sardinas
  • Salt Sal
  • Bread Pan
  • Tomatoes Tomate


  1. Clean the sardines, chop off their heads, chop off their tails and remove the innards. Cover them in salt and keep for 24 hours in the fridge.
  2. Wash them. Remove the skins and take out the spines.
  3. Conserve them in olive oil in the fridge and eat when required.
  4. Serving Suggestion:
  5. Slice fresh bread.
  6. Prepare some fresh tomato by grating it, smear tomato on bread.
  7. Put one fillet of sardine on each piece of tomato bread and serve as canapes.

And, here’s what really happens…

First of all, you will only need 1/2 kilo of sardines as any more and you’ll spend the best part of two evenings preparing the devils. It takes quite a lot of time! Also, buy medium size ones – the little ones really aren’t worth the effort (no vale la pena).

Debs preparing sardines

I suggest you only try this recipe if you enjoy creating a close up and personal relationship with your food before eating. You will really get to know and appreciate the inner workings of mr and mrs sardine.

It’s worth working slowly at the “opening” stage as careful parting of the two halves now will save you time pulling out the odd bone later! You need to cover them liberally in salt. I left my sardine fillets still attached at the top (the bit where there’s a fin) – you could have them completely separated if you want.

I left the sardines in the salt in the fridge for 3 days – this isn’t necessary – I forgot about them. I don’t think it hurts them.

Sardines salted for the fridge

When you get them out there will be quite a lot of liquid in the container – this is the juice from the fish and is OK.

Wash the fish, get rid of as much salt as you can, then comes the fun part.

You need to remove the skin – sounds easy – I found it a bit of a fiddle – though I got much better at it towards the end (though my back was aching by then – you really do only want to do 1/2 kilo!). It’s easiest to pull the skin away from the fin end of the fish – the skin here is darker and lifts up if you slide your finger nail under it. I ended up with quite a bit of silvery colour still attached – so I tasted it and it’s fine – doesn’t feel like skin, I think it’s just the colour.

Then you remove the backbone.

I used a sharp knife and poked the tip in near the fat end of the fish (head end), then gently slid it under the spine, pulling the spine away with my fingers at the same time. I got quite good at this.

Now, if you have a husband like mine, then you will need to make sure you get out any little bones too, as he’s “allergic” to fish bones. Even though I’ve told him many times that no-one has ever died from eating a fish bone. They die from choking on them. So, chew and swallow!

However, as I’m making these as canapes for my mother-in-law’s visit next week I took a little extra time and removed as many little bones as I could. I wouldn’t want to be accused of mother-in-law-icide!

Removing the little bones is easiest with fingers rather than my wonderful, super salmon bone tweezers – which are just too big for the job.

So, finally you end up with a small bowl of fish like this.

Sardines in oil – ready for eating

It doesn’t look like a lot – but it took me 1 hour to prepare them for the salting phase and 1.5 hours to clean them and get them ready for the olive oil. My back was killing me (I don’t usually stand up for that long and you do need to be by a sink to wash the scales off your fingers every few minutes!) but I hope it will be worth the effort.

Now, the very last stage (before eating) is to cover them with good quality olive oil. Make sure the oil covers every fish and gets in between them all too.

For serving you’ll have to wait till next week. I’ll let you know what my mother-in-law thinks and if she survives!

PS: For more recipes and to see if my mother-in-law enjoyed the sardines, subscribe to this blog by clicking the link above or signing up to the newsletter in the right hand column!


front-cover-outlineIf you love Spanish cooking then get yourself a copy of our Spanish Cooking Uncovered: Farmhouse Favourites cookery book.


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