Food comes in different shapes, forms and – of course – flavors. Some of them are true crowd pleasers (strawberries or chocolate are no-brainers), some of them are polarizing (thinking of olives or capers) and comparatively few of them come with a bad rep (second helping on the offal anyone?). I have been a very picky eater for the first two decades of my life and sort of still am, but do admire adventurous people like Eddie or our dear friend Hande, who recently shared with us stories about traditional food in Turkey, involving tripe and
buffalo sheep testicles … yumm.
It has become pretty en vogue -not only in high-class restaurants- to eat off the beaten track, picking a dish that could easily provoke a hysterical and disgusted reaction by other guests. “Yuck, I’d never….!”. Try everything once is a keen and open minded motto for every foodie and I have a lot of respect for everyone willing to broaden their culinary horizon outside of their comfort zone.
Now what’s in and what’s out of your personal comfort zone is likely to be dependent on your cultural and culinary background. Yet I’m guilty of all talk and no action: escargots and even oysters are still on my need – to – try – someday – not – quite – yet list! (side-note on oysters: my last attempt in Vienna was sabotaged by the restaurant owner who disclosed to me that they had run out of them! I’m trying though, I am trying. Things happen for a reason, maybe I should have my first oyster at a place where I can actually see and smell the sea…) But at least two items I was able to tick off my list over the last months: Eating pan-roasted blood sausage – which didn’t actually taste that bad – and gut fish/sardines.
The side benefit of shopping for sardines was to discover something new: Aquadelle, a tiny little fish. What goes by the name “aquadelle” in fact belongs to the family of sardines (baby sardines essentially) and are sold as is. The upside is, you don’t have to gut them. The down-side, you’ll be eating them with their innards, eyes etc. Well, not raw but fried – I bet this makes you feel much better already!
Bottom line: The scent of the fried aquadelle was so scrumptious, I couldn’t resist and threw all sissy worries over board. Drizzled with some lime juice it makes perfect finger food to start a party – as long as your guests play along.
The recipe/steps couldn’t be any simpler.
Put the little fish in a sieve and wash under running cold water. Let drip off and pad them dry on a paper towel.
Mix together flour, cayenne pepper, freshly ground black pepper, nutmeg and salt or experiment with other spices. All amounts are by guess and gosh.
Heat up enough sunflower oil in a pot (to fully cover the fish later) until small bubbles form on a wooden stick.
Take a small handful of the aquadelle at a time, toss them in the flour mixture until they are evenly covered and fry until golden brown (about 3-4 minutes). Remove them from the pot with a skimmer and place on a fresh paper towel to drain off any excessive fat.
Serve hot with quarters of fresh lime or lemon.
Recipe source: inspired by "Die Fischkochschule", Rick Stein, p.56
Prep time & frying: 20min.
freshly ground black pepper
lime or lemon quarters