How to Cure a Sardine

Chef Jamie Simpson’s Cured Sardines

This recipe is very important to me because Sardines are one of the most unappreciated fish in the ocean, yet delicious! Sardines are highlighted on NY Times list of the 11 Best Food You Aren’t Eating. They are high in nutrition, support cardiovascular and bone health, are low in calories and GI and their sustainable. The United States Pacific Sardine fishery is not over-fished because consumers are focusing on larger fish such as salmon, which uses at least three pounds foraged fish to get  one pound of salmon. In order for us to keep the balance in the ocean we need to concentrate what to harvest, what to consume and educate each other about sustainability. I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much as I enjoyed making it!

Cheers, Jamie

Cured Sardine

Ice water
Sharp knife
Small cutting board
Lint free towels

With a sharp knife, eviscerate the sardines from the belly to the gills. Remove contents of the stomach cavity gently, being careful not to rupture any organs and reserve. Wash the empty cavity of the sardine thoroughly. Make three clean cuts, two behind the gills on either side, then cut either side of the top fin and pull it out (this will make removing bones a little easier), and from the belly to the tail on the underside. Cut back the fillets from the belly, working your way up toward the back, being careful not to damage the flesh or the skin. Snip the spine at the base of the tail and gently pull it away from the fillets starting at the tail. This will help remove a good portion of the pin bones that you won’t have to do later. When you get the fillets removed from the spine and head, open the butterfly, clean your cutting board, and get out your tweezers. The two fillets should be attached by the back skin with the tail on. Carefully remove every pin bone in the fillets (there are three rows on each, one sub dermal row and two rows on either side of the loin). This is the most time consuming step of the process but in the end, it is well worth the effort.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

Carefully rinse the fillets in ice water and dry.

For the Cure:
Cure for 10 minutes with the buried skin side up in the salt sugar mixture.
Sea salt: 80%
Sugar: 20%


Carefully rinse the fillets in ice water.

Brine: 13 minutes submerged
White Balsamic vinegar: 70%
Sherry vinegar: 20%
Distilled water: 10%
Sugar: depending on the sweetness of your vinegar’s
salt: to taste, for balance


Carefully rinse the fillets in ice water.

Cure: 3 minutes buried skin side up
salt: 80%
sugar: 20%

Gently rinse the fillets in ice water.

Olive oil: Trentino imperiale extra virgin olive oil







Cryovac on high with a single smashed garlic clove per every five fish, and with enough olive oil to bury.
Refrigerate and reserve for later use.



To plate:

pickled mustard seeds
bitter lemon puree
squid ink mustard
whole grain mustard
steamed egg white
castelvetrano olive
preserved egg yolk
fried caper
pickled cucumber





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s