fish and chips as in Tangier – Salvation

You cook, Jacky Durand

Every weekend we head to the kitchen with recipes for big and small days. This Sunday, an ode to sardines in a breaded and spicy version with harissa mayo.

Our passion for grilled sardines (also canned in oil) goes back a century. Minot was sitting at the counter of a military house, where the owner, who was “Hindo”, gave us grenades between two lush pastis and beer. Grande Muette had strict “liquid food,” but sometimes a soldier was assigned to grill a squadron of sardines and merguez sausages as stomach ammunition between heavy shots of alcohol. This is how we discovered whole grilled sardines with guts. Undoubtedly, the unfortunate person who had the bad idea to drain this magnificent bluefish would go into the “hole” with the toilet works.

From the rue Aligre in Paris to the ports of Marseille and Algiers, grilled sardines are a favorite of ours. A subtle blend of nostalgia and celebration stirs our taste buds and mood as we stuff ourselves with loads of harissa, a handful of potatoes, salad and onion rings.

Grilled sardines are both street food when eaten alone in a cozy small-town diner on a cold day, and wild cuisine when grilled under the grill on the Calanque des Moines. As Mireille Sanchez argues in her book, we would never have imagined it in Mediterranean fish and chips. Mediterranean, a journey to cuisines, 24 coastal and island countries, 1300 recipes, 5000 years of history (1). From ‘Capri Salad’ (Italy) to ‘Sifnos Pie’ (Greece) to ‘Syrian Ravioli in Sauce’, there’s as much knowledge as it is delicious to always have on hand in the kitchen. For Mireille Sanchez, there is no doubt: “Indeed, we owe this simple and popular dish to Jewish cuisine. Whether brought to London by Joseph Malin, a Jewish immigrant from Eastern Europe in the 18th century, or by Portuguese Marranos in the 1500s, ‘fish and chips’ or ‘breaded fish and chips’ appear in many Mediterranean ports.”

Try Mireille Sanchez’s Tangier-style fish and chips this weekend. For four people you need 8 sardines, head, gutted, scaled, central bones removed (you can ask your fishmonger for this with a smile); 6 medium potatoes; frying oil (nut, sunflower). For Chermoula donut dough: 1 small bunch of coriander; 2 cloves of garlic; 1 teaspoon coarse salt; 2 tablespoons of olive oil; 150 g of flour; 1 tablespoon ground cumin; 1 teaspoon paprika; 1 egg; 25 cl of beer or sparkling water with ice. For the harissa mayonnaise: one egg yolk; 2 tablespoons of harissa; 10-15 cl of sunflower oil; 1 lemon (zest + a dash of juice).

Prepare the harissa mayonnaise: mix the egg yolks and harissa in a bowl, then whisk the mayonnaise with a little oil. Finish by adding lemon zest and a dash of lemon juice.

Prepare the chermoula donut dough: in a mortar, grind a bunch of coriander, peeled garlic cloves with coarse salt and olive oil until you get a fine dough (chermoula). Pour the sifted flour, cumin and paprika into a bowl. Break the egg into it, then beat everything, gradually pour beer or sparkling water. Add chermoula to this donut dough, let it rest.

Prepare the chips: Peel the skin, then finely chop the potatoes using a mandoline. Heat the frying pan, throw the potato slices several times. Bake at 180ºC for ten minutes. Drain on absorbent paper, salt and pepper. Flatten the sardines a little. Stir in the donut batter, then dip the sardines into it. Fry them in oil at 180ºC for five minutes. Drain on absorbent paper. Salt and pepper for chips. Serve the sardine fritters with the crispy and harissa mayonnaise.

(1) Editions de la Martinière, €55, 2022.

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