This polenta, sardine and Parmesan paired with a beautiful garlic sauce is such a winner in my little circle of garlic lovers starting with my two little Dra’culea’s 😂- and for those who don’t know my maiden name is Culea – still use it sometimes as I quite like it.😜
So, yeah, as I was saying, who doesn't love a good old pan fried fillet of fish, but combined with a beautiful and cooked to perfection polenta, a good indulgent sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese and the garlic sauce- a combo that is difficult to match – it's just the ultimate. It's actually way too good to be able to even express in words. Maybe just few sounds will say it all. 😊 hmm, mmmm…
Okay, let me put it this way, if I ever ask kids and I give them options, for a dinner in particular and I say, ok kiddos, choose between A…, B…, C…, D…, E which is polenta with whatever (meat or fish), F… or G…guess what…. – my lovely kiddos don’t hear anything before or after option E. All I get shouted back with masses of excitement is with no fail and believe it will always be is: POLENTA!!
They do know very well what they like and what they want 🙂 but their mother ( aka Myself) also knows when she wants it easier what to mention ;-)) ha ha
Must be all my fault perhaps for making it quite often 😃 but ultimately polenta is very healthy and for those that don’t really know what it is ( yes, I’ve met quite a few people that never heard of it) polenta is cornmeal made very simply from a coarse corn flour and water (boiling water) with a bit of salt. That's it! Nothing exciting you may say but I won't agree. It’s excintigly delicious particularly if combined with the right stuff and the combo options are great, particularly fish like those sardine fillets but try any other fish or meet.
I remember as a kid we used to eat a lot of bread but the polenta was always very special for us the choldren and somehow my kids seem to fell the same way.
It’s so unique when combined with any pan fried meat or something that has either a tomato or a creamy base with loads of cream or cheese or simply served with eggs and cheese and a bit of butter. Oh that's only going to make me shout out everything in superlative!
For other recipes and/or ideas containing polenta that you may want to try, check out my grilled veggies polenta chicken and chicken or the chicken mushroom with polenta. All seriously delicious dishes.
Okay then, let's just get cooking. It's quick n' yummy!
Simple sardine fillets and polenta with Parmesan cheese and garlic sauce
- 16 sardine fillets fresh or frozen
- 1 tsp salt to sprinkle on fish
- 2-3 tbsp cooking olive oil or butter
For the polenta:
- 720 ml water
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- 180 g cornmeal fine or coarse
- 3 tbsp butter optional
For the garlic sauce:
- 4-6 cloves garlic made into a paste
- 75 ml water
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 2-3 springs fresh herbs (dill or parsley) to garnish
Start by making sure your fish fillets are ready. If fish comes from frozen, take out of the freezer and thaw overnight in the fridge or placed in cold water for about 20 mins- 1 hour before cooking it. Since this it will be fried it has to be fairly dry so pat dry with kitchen towel and then salt lightly and set aside.
Let's prepare the garlic sauce now which has to be ready when the fish and the polenta are already so the dish can be served hot immediately. And for this we need to peel and chop the garlic and place into the mortar with a generous pinch fa sea salt. Make this into a paste, add the water and the vinegar and it's good to go.
Meanwhile start cooking the polenta, and for this you have to boil the water in a castiron or nonstick pot and add the salt. When the water begins to simmer, add slowly the cornmeal, whisking energetically to avoid lumps. The polenta will start thickening fairly quickly. You will have to keep whisking or stirring fairly often or it will form a crust which is not an issue. Stir in the butter if you choose to use it and even some shredded cheese if you dare until all melted and well incorporated.
While the polenta is cooking place a nonstick frying pan on medium heat, add some oil or butter and fry the slightly salted fish fillets. Fry as many as you can fit it in the pan 4-6 at once for about 3 min on each side and then take out on a plate. Repeat with the remainder of the fish fillets until all done.
Once the polenta is ready, dish into four plates, place the pan fried sardine fillets over the soft polenta and drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons of garlic sauce. Tuck in and fully enjoy.
Feel free to add some grated cheese over or even some 1-2 tbsp of yoghurt- a nice full fat Greek style yoghurt.
To paste the garlic I’m using a Mortar and pestle (I am using this mortar).
If you prefer your polenta to be denser, pour it into a dish, let it cool slightly for 10-15 mins and then cut/serve into chunks.
But for a softer one which is my all time favourite, you will need to serve it scooped out immediately before it has hardened and top it up with these beautiful sardine fillets perfectly panfried and a beautiful garlic sauce.
It can be a little tricky with the polenta to get it to the right texture and this is because it really depends on the cornflour/cornmeal as some ‘swallow' more water than others. You can always juggle with the water or the cornflour amounts.
Don't panic! If you want it in a denser texture add more flour, and if it turned out denser than your liking then add some more boiling water (from a kettle) till you get it the right texture. It is all a learning process don’t worry I don’t always get it right every time after making it for so many years but I happily juggle with either water or the flour till’s perfecto! 😉
Of course my suggestion would be if you do not like the garlic sauce then feel free to sprinkle with an indulgent amount of grated or shaved Parmesan cheese or any other cheese that you would like such a nice mature cheddar. I tell you what.... I LOVE it with feta cheese too. A lot 😉
Oh, I feel like dancing with joy already and yes I might need to hit the gym after so much cheese but... who cares, I’ll do whatever but cut corners/cheese amounts on this dish. No wayyyy!! ;-))
Enjoy this delicious dish with a nice seabass fillet instead of sardines or whatever fish you prefer! Make it nice and crisp and it will be heaven.😉