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sardine and polenta with garlic and cheese

Simple sardine fillets and polenta with Parmesan cheese and garlic sauce

This simple dish containing a creamy polenta topped with pan fried sardine fillets and a splash of fresh garlic sauce is absolutely to die for especially if you are a garlic lover like I am ;-)
Course Main Course
Cuisine Eastern Europe, Mediterranean
Keyword fish, garlic, polenta, quick meals, sardines
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 343kcal


  • 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
  • 4 tbsp Parmesan cheese optional

For the garlic sauce:

  • 4-6 cloves garlic made into a paste
  • 75 ml water
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2-3 sprigs 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 of sea salt. Make this into a paste, add the water and the vinegar and it's all 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. It may form a crust which is not an issue. In the last minute of cooking stir in the butter and the Parmesan cheese if you choose to use or any other shredded cheese you may like and prefer. Mix until 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 totally free to add some more grated cheese over or even some 1-2 tbsp of yoghurt- a nice full fat Greek style yoghurt or creme fraiche.


sardine and polenta with garlic and cheese
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 the way I want it every time. This is also because there are so many types on the market and some are more starchy than others. One thing is certainn. the more you will be cooking it, the better will get. Just juggle with either water or the polenta 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 ;-) I do both though as I can not give up on either the cheese nor the garlic. HA HA.
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 any corners/cheese amounts on this dish. No wayyyy!! ;-))
Enjoy this delicious dish with a nice sea bass, makerel, sea bream, cod, fillet instead of sardines or whatever fish you prefer! Make it nice and crisp and it will be heaven.Yum!


Serving: 1g | Calories: 343kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 28mg | Sodium: 1186mg | Potassium: 166mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 345IU | Vitamin C: 1.6mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 1.4mg