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  • Grilled Sardines with Tarragon-Garlic-Lemon-Chile Butter

    Posted on | August 6, 2008 | 31 Comments |

    The grilling saga continues! This time it’s Sardines! Yes, I finally found fresh sardines here at Uwajimaya! Grilled these on my non-stick grill pan, since I was a bit afraid to use the cast iron grill. I didn’t want the skin to stick to cast iron, crispy skin is the best part of sardines! Yeah, yeah I know the theory, if you pre-heat it and apply oil, nothing will stick, etc. I didn’t want to take that chance and the non-stick grill pan worked perfectly for this. I have a real smelly house now, which is a totally different problem altogether!

    The sardines were seasoned with just salt and freshly ground pepper, and grilled crispy! Back home, we apply a lot of spices to sardines and fry these, but ever since we had the crispy roasted sardines at How to Cook a Wolf , where they just used salt and pepper to season the sardines, we have been meaning to try it out. Since my oven is broken, I couldn’t roast these, I thought grilling would work just the same, and it did! To go with these, I made a tarragon-garlic-lemon-chile butter, which was the perfect accompaniment to the simple grilled fish! This butter is a versatile dipping sauce for other seafood dishes and even veggies!

    Grilled Sardines

    Grilled Sardines

    Clean the sardines and season both sides with salt and pepper.

    Heat a well-greased grill pan. When the pan is really hot, place the sardines and grill for about 3-4 minutes on each side till the skin is brown and crispy on both sides.

    Serve hot with the tarragon-lemon-garlic-chile-butter.



    • 1/2 a block butter
    • 2 tbsp fresh tarragon minced
    • 2 large cloves of garlic minced
    • 1 Habanero chilie seeded and finely minced (or use any other spicy variety of chilies)
    • grated zest from 1 baby lemon
    • juice of 1/2 a baby lemon
    • salt to taste


    Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over low heat. Add the tarragon, garlic, chilies, lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir well to combine, let it heat for a minute or so. Keep warm till ready to serve.

    You can also use other fresh herbs in this recipe.

    And obviously, this is another entry for Monthly Mingle- Grill It!

    If you want to make sardines the way we make it back home check out Shn’s mouthwatering creation here.

    Category: From the Grill, Seafood

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    31 Responses to “Grilled Sardines with Tarragon-Garlic-Lemon-Chile Butter”

    1. Raaga
      August 7th, 2008 @ 2:33 am

      I still haven’t thought about what to grill… the peppers before and a smelly house now? You really want me to run in the opposite direction, don’t you :-)

      :) Glad you live so far away, huh? :) Anyway, that is no excuse to not grill, k?

    2. Swati Jain:Sugarcraft India
      August 7th, 2008 @ 2:37 am

      Hey, thanks for mentioning about the veggies !! :smile:
      The sauce does sound really good!!

      Thanks Swati, I tried this with some grilled veggies afterwards, and it was superb!

    3. musical
      August 7th, 2008 @ 3:43 am

      Habanero :) Now we are talking :-D Love this spicy hot butter, am gonna’ grill carrots and zucchini, yum yum yum!

      Guess what, I grilled carrots and zucchini and squash, and had it with this butter… it was great, hope you try!

    4. rachel
      August 7th, 2008 @ 3:50 am

      I have some fresh sardines but my laziness to clean them is taking the upperhand…looking at these..I better cleaning them immediately….

      I never clean fish, it is normally Siv’s department… but he wasn’t home this time, so I cleaned these, and it was the easiest fish to clean… no scales… cut off the head and tail, open the gut and clean out everything in, and wash… it is ready to go :)

    5. nags
      August 7th, 2008 @ 3:55 am

      matthi :D i find them very stinky but have to admit they taste yum when fried

      oh yeah, the stink is afterwards… while they are frying, that is the best aroma in the world… next day, not so… :)

    6. Shreya
      August 7th, 2008 @ 5:21 am

      Hi, I loooooooooooove sardines.. mathi fry is my fav, and then the gravy with coconut, without, etc etc..can go on and on about them. I am drooling at the picture, and my mouth is watering. I haven’t had it now for 4 months:-(, and won;t be able to, until I go home to my parents’ place.

      Thanks Shreya… I too love mathi everything! Don’t be so lazy, go get some and make it ;)

    7. Mishmash!
      August 7th, 2008 @ 8:29 am

      Finally!! U must have been really excited to see the fresh ones right :) smelly house is something i can compromise for such pleasures once a while :) enjoyyy :)

      Ever since I saw your recent post I’ve been having this unbelievable craving :) Thanks Shn!

    8. sra
      August 7th, 2008 @ 9:19 am

      I would love to eat this, Sig, wish I was living close by.
      One of those magazine hints for a smelly house is to wet a towel, hold it up and walk through all the rooms so that it can absorb the odour, but I guess this works only when the fumes are fresh and alive, not when they’ve gone and stuck to the walls and everything else. It strikes me as a very funny picture – anyone holding a wet towel up and walking through the rooms. :grin:

      LOL.. that will be a funny sight… but what the heck, it is worth a try :) I have been collecting a bunch of tips on eliminating the cooking smell, I might just do a post on it soon… :) Thanks for one more tip, Sra!

    9. usha
      August 7th, 2008 @ 9:41 am

      mmm…each time i visit your blog, I am hungry…. i haven’t found fresh sardines so far… sometimes i substitute it for smelt…my husband likes those a lot but i find smelt smelly….

      :) thanks Usha! I love smelts, but it is hard to clean…. I found sardines to be stinkier than smelt though :) but who cares, both taste great!

    10. Su
      August 7th, 2008 @ 11:27 am

      Yummmm! You’re making my mouth water and its only 8 in the morning. Now I want to make some traditional “mathi fry” as well as try your recipe…looks delicious! You have a small plate idea right here when you invite us next ;)

      I was thinking the same about the small plate idea… :) let me see if I can find these next time we do one of those :)

    11. Sukanya
      August 7th, 2008 @ 11:43 am

      This is a mouthwatering recipe. Looks so good. Ur grilling recipes rocks…. :( Martini):

      :) thanks Sukanya!

    12. richa
      August 7th, 2008 @ 1:27 pm

      how about that spicy butter with corn :drool:

      oh yeah, corn will be great with this… :) try and let me know!

    13. tbc
      August 7th, 2008 @ 2:20 pm

      Have you been going for those photography classes? The pic looks simply gorgeous! :drool:

      See, I’m leaving a comment here even though it’s not a vegetarian post. :wink: :cool:

      aaaaah….. thank you TBC, and no, I only went for one class, it was too technical and boring, so I dropped out :oops:

      :) re: leaving the comment for non-veg post, have you been taking to Rajitha? ;)

    14. Mamatha
      August 7th, 2008 @ 5:59 pm

      Sig, you are killing me with these posts.
      *Walking off in a huff swearing never to visit L2E when hungry*

      Sra, I’m going to try your tip – I’ve limited cooking fish to once in a blue moon because of the lingering smell.

      :) Thanks Mamatha, and like Sra, I too would love a pic… :D

    15. sra
      August 8th, 2008 @ 1:25 am

      Sig, this is for Mamatha – Mamatha, please send me a picture of yourself doing that :mrgreen:


    16. indosungod
      August 8th, 2008 @ 8:44 am

      Smelly house is a small price to pay ;) for those beautiful and tasty sardines.

      :) Thanks Indo, that is my theory too…

    17. shilpa
      August 8th, 2008 @ 11:26 am

      Ohh…wish I lived somewhere close by. I would invite myself :mrgreen: . I can’t stop drooling

      :) thanks Shilpa, I too wish many times that you were my neighbor ;)

    18. Dhi
      August 8th, 2008 @ 12:55 pm

      That looks really good! beautifully grilled and just perfect lighting.

      Oh, I’d like to invite you to join the food photo contest. Please have a look here for more info

      There’re some prizes for the lucky winners :D

      :) thanks Dhi… I will check it out, thanks for the link..

    19. swirlingnotions
      August 8th, 2008 @ 1:20 pm

      These look gorgeous. I’ve been dying to get my hands on some sardines, but have yet to find a source . . .

      Thanks SN… if you have an Asian market in your area, check with them… they might at least have frozen ones…

    20. Aartee
      August 9th, 2008 @ 11:06 pm

      Love ur grilled recipes, I am gonna try them one by one and enjoy them, thanks for sharing. And the sardines, I wish i could find fresh ones here.

    21. sumarajesh
      August 10th, 2008 @ 2:36 am

      grilling recipe is tooo gud….fish looks mouthwatering….

    22. Swati Jain:Sugarcraft India
      August 10th, 2008 @ 5:05 am

      Sig, I have something special for you in my blog…Check it out..

    23. Cynthia
      August 10th, 2008 @ 4:40 pm

      Oh Sig, I am totally in love with that photograph as well as the recipe.

    24. Nirmala
      August 11th, 2008 @ 4:46 am

      Sardines are best for grilling and frying! Lovely dish Sig. Amma would pan fry them with little oil and it tastes best with pepper rasam and steamed rice. I can eat how many ever is given. This dipping sauce looks interesting!

    25. Sanhita
      August 11th, 2008 @ 12:05 pm

      Hi, you have a wonderful blog full of interesting recipes. This one looks yum. Hope tou don’t mind, I added you to my blogroll. Please feel free to visit my blog any time and leave comments.
      Happy Cooking!!

    26. matt wright
      August 11th, 2008 @ 3:30 pm

      These look great, sardines are one of my favorite things to eat. This awesome sounding butter is a new way for me to enjoy these flowers of the sea!

    27. naomi
      August 12th, 2008 @ 3:08 am

      My mouth is watering! I can feel the crispness of those sardines, just by looking at them – you know, I don’t think I’d even mind the bones if they came to the table looking that delicious.

      x x x

    28. rajitha
      August 14th, 2008 @ 1:54 pm

      hey hey!! i heard that comment u gave this is what i get for being a loyal..awesome and an amazing visitor of ur blog…. :cry: …u will pay for this sigmaaaaaa…. :evil:

      and whaaat! quit after a class…che-che-che…today’s generation has no dedication ;) (yep..i have decided to become a grandma!..i think it is easier that way….)

    29. sebastian
      December 2nd, 2009 @ 8:14 pm

      I stumbled across your blog today, which browsing the net for Kerala food bloggers. I really like your blog, and absolutely envious that you get fresh sardines in Seattle. I have not tasted sardines ever since I came to the US three years back.