Nothing is better than the sardines -- served outside at picnic tables with an assortment of salads, bread, and bottled water
2 pounds fresh sardines (about 24), scaled, eviscerated, boned, and dorsal fin removed (we like to keep the head and tail, but you can remove them if desired)
3 Moroccan Preserved Lemons
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
fresh cilantro for garnish
1. Prepare a moderately hot charcoal fire.
2. Wash the sardines well and soak them in cold salted water for 10 minutes. Dry on kitchen towels.
3. Grill the sardines on an oiled rack set about 4 inches over glowing coals for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, depending on size of fish. (Carefully check for doneness; do not overcook.)
4. Cut each preserved lemon into 8 thin slices. Arrange the 24 slices on a large platter, and top them with the grilled sardines. Sprinkle sardines with salt and pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil, garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve immediately.
One of our favorite fish-eating experiences ever was at the harbor in Essaouira, Morocco. Charcoal grills are set up on the docks and when the fishing boats come in the fish goes directly from the boat to the grill. There is a huge variety of fish available, but nothing is better than the sardines—served outside at picnic tables with an assortment of salads, bread and bottled water. With this dish you can pretend you're there. Serves 8 as a first course or 4 as a main course Recommended wine: Chardonnay