1 1/2 cups mayonnaise, Italian-style (see below) or store-bought
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon Italian chili oil (see Note)
Oil for frying
2 large eggs
About 2 cups fine dried breadcrumbs
24 fresh sardines, deboned and butterflied, heads removed
Fine sea salt
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, paprika, and chili oil until the mayonnaise develops a uniform “rusty” color. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
2. Heat 2 inches of oil in a medium heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat.
3. Meanwhile, in a wide shallow bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Place 1 cup of the breadcrumbs in another wide shallow bowl.
4. Dip a sardine into the egg; turn to coat and shake off the excess. Dip the sardine in the breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere. Shake off any excess. Transfer the sardine to a large plate and repeat with the remaining sardines, adding more breadcrumbs as needed.
5. When the oil is hot enough, work in batches, carefully frying 4 sardines at a time, adjusting the heat if necessary (the oil should not smoke) until golden brown, about 45 seconds per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sardines to a plate lined with paper towels. Dust with salt and serve each batch immediately with individual bowls of the “rust” sauce, then continue frying.
Note: If you can’t find Italian chili oil (olio di peperoncino), you can make your own quickly by heating 1 tablespoon olive oil and a shake of crushed red pepper flakes in a small saucepan over low heat for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool, and strain out the flakes.
2 large egg yolks, preferably organic, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups neutral-tasting vegetable oil, such as sunflower seed or grapeseed
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Fine sea salt to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks using a flexible metal whisk until frothy. (Alternatively, you can use a handheld electric or stand mixer.) Gradually add 1/2 cup of the vegetable oil, a tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously until the mixture has thickened. Whisk in the
lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Gradually add the remaining 3/4 cups vegetable oil and 1/4 cup olive oil, whisking continuously. Season with salt to taste.
2. The mayonnaise will keep, covered and refrigerated, for about a week.
Note: While homemade mayonnaise is truly worth the time and energy, you can quickly doll-up the store-bought stuff by whisking 1/4 cup good-quality extra virgin olive oil and the juice of 1/2 lemon into 1 1/2 cups store-bought mayonnaise.
From Aperitivo: The Cocktail Culture of Italy, © 2016, by Marisa Huff. Used by permission of Rizzoli.
Each week, The Splendid Table brings you stories that expand your world view, inspire you to try something new and show how food brings us together. We rely on you to do this. And, when you donate, you'll become a member of The Splendid Table Co-op. It's a community of like-minded individuals who love good food, good conversation and kitchen companionship. Splendid Table Co-op members will get exclusive content each month and have special opportunities for connecting with The Splendid Table team.
Donate today for as little as $5.00 a month. Your gift only takes a few minutes and has a lasting impact on The Splendid Table and you'll be welcomed into The Splendid Table Co-op.