Friday, February 12, 2016

Mediterranean Sardine Spread Appetizer Platter

     Real Sardines!
     Some people really like sardines!  Sardines are one of the healthiest fish to eat, because they are loaded with healthy Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
     There are a wide variety of canned sardine products in American grocery stores, but the species of fish in most cans is not always a true sardine.  In America, the fish in most cans of sardine actually is small varieties of Herring.  Many Northern European brands of canned sardines actually only contain Sprats.  A Sardine does not look or taste like a small Herring or Sprat.
     There are only a few temperate ocean waters around the world where real sardines are harvested as food.  The Atlantic Coast near Northwest Africa is a major Sardine fishery.  Real Sardines are also caught throughout the Mediterranean Sea.  Sardines are harvested in other temperate ocean waters around the world, but these sardines are more often sold as bait or sun dried for Asian cuisine.
     The country of Morocco is in the heart of one of the greatest sardine fisheries.  If the label on a can of sardines says Morocco, then the contents are practically guaranteed to be real sardines.
     After opening a can of Moroccan sardines, the little fish should have a tapered cigar shape.  The skin will be a silver gray color and the little scales will be large enough to see.  When scales are rinsed off and the filets are separated, the meat will look tan and brown.  These are the characteristics of real sardines.
     Real Sardines have a gentle yet rich flavor that is perfect for making a snack spread.  Sardine Spread has the same kind of consistency as a smooth American style tuna salad.  The key to making a good sardine spread, is to just lightly accent the flavor of the Mediterranean Sardines.
     Mediterranean Sardine Spread: 
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Select a 3 1/2 ounce to 4 ounce can of Mediterranean Sardines.  (Moroccan Sardines)
     Drain the oil off of the sardines.
     Invert the can onto a plate, then tap the can till the sardines land on the plate.
     Gently scrape the scales and skin off of the sardines.  (Or hold each sardine under a thin stream of cold running water and rinse the scales off.)
     Step 2:  Open the sardines, so the filets are separated.
     Remove the backbone and entrails.
     *You should now have several small clean sardine filets.
     Step 3:  Place the cleaned sardine filets in a small mixing bowl.
     Use a fork to thoroughly mash the sardines
     Step 4:  Add 1 tablespoon of minced Bermuda Onion.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced green bell pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced roasted red bell pepper.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.
     Step 5:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon Mustard.
     Add 1 small pinch of ground celery seed.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 small pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 6:  Add just enough mayonnaise to bind the ingredients together.  (About 2 to 3 tablespoons)
     Mix and mash the ingredients together.
     *The Sardine Spread should be blended smooth enough to spread on crackers or crostini.  Add a little more mayonnaise if the mixture is too stiff.  
     Place the sardine spread in a container.
     Chill the sardine spread for 30 minutes, so the flavors meld.
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Stale French Baguette is best for crostini.  Crostini should be baked at a low temperature till it is thoroughly crisp with brown highlights. 
     Cut 6 to 8 thin slices of French Baguette.
     Place the bread slices on a baking pan.
     Lightly brush the bread slices with olive oil.
     Bake the crostini in a 300ºF oven till they are crisp, but not browned.
     Set the crostini aside.

     Green Onion Flower Garnish:
     Trim the green top off of a green onion.
     Trim the  white section so it is 4 1/2" long.
     Use the tip of a knife to cut several thin parallel slashes lengthwise from the middle of the white section to the tip.  (The end of the onion should look like a straw brush.)
     Soak the prepared green onion in ice water, till the bristles on the end curl and bloom like a flower.
     Mediterranean Sardine Spread Appetizer Platter:
     This recipe describes 1 appetizer platter presentation.
     Step 1:  Place small bed of leaf lettuce on the back half of a plate.
     Place 2 thin slices of Bermuda Onion on the lettuce.
     Place 3 thin plum tomato wedges on the lettuce.
     Place a few pickled banana pepper slices and a couple of black olives on the lettuce.
     Step 2:  Place the chilled Sardine Spread in a wide ramekin and set it on the plate.
     Overlap the crostini slices across the plate.
     Step 3:  Garnish the sardine spread with a few thin sliced strips of roasted red bell pepper.
     Garnish the sardine spread with Italian Parsley leaves.
     Place the green onion flower garnish in the sardine spread ramekin.
    This is a tasty healthy appetizer platter!

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