Originally Posted by Snoop Puss
Sounds like Ayrton will be able to give you a recipe to do them at home, Kadesma. They're not difficult and taste fantastic. If you can find the fresh fish, they'll work out much cheaper.
Happily, as I second everything Snoop Puss has said: they're easy, cheap, and yummy!
And, as I was driving at with the photos -- these recipes work for either fresh anchovies or fresh sardines, the only difference being how the difference in the girth of each type of fish would affect its dehydration in the salt.
Behead and gut the fish under running cold water then drain. For anchovies you'd probably want to keep the fish whole with its spine whereas for the larger sardines you'd want to fillet the fish but that's not a hard and fast rule. The less the dehydration from salt, however, the more tender the final result.
Pack the cleaned fish into a container in layers of neat rows, alternating each layer with plenty of coarse salt. Cover and leave either (1) overnight or, (2) for three nights, the latter giving a saltier end product with more "bite" which is actually more desirable sometimes. The saltier version is most appropriate for the below recipe.
For the first dish I'm thinking of (this most likely being a bit different than what you saw, Kadesma), you would then remove the fish one by one from the salt, shaking/rubbing off as much salt as you can, then plunking them into a bowl in which you have an appropriate amount of vinegar (enough so that they can wade if not quite swim ...). Once all have been dunked in the vinegar, pull them out
one by one, this time shaking off the vinegar, and put them into a fresh container and cover with olive oil. They're then ready to eat and will keep quite awhile (or so I'd imagine -- they don't last long in our house so it's hard for me to advise on this!). We keep ours in the fridge.
With the above recipe you could fillet the fish as you transfer them from the salt to the vinegar, or you could leave the spine in to be removed when they're eaten. It's up to you. IMHO, the very nicest, most luxurious preparation would be with the spine removed.
The "white-fillet" variation would be similar, however, I think you'd want to do the one-night salting as the tenderness of the fish is part of what's so lovely.
Prepare the fish as above up to and including the packing in salt but leave only for one night. Rinse the salt off under minimal cold running water and fillet, then place the filletted fish into neat rows in a fresh container. Shake off most of the water as you go.
Have ready an appropriate (to your taste) quantity of very thinly sliced onion, whole allspice berries, whole peppercorns, and a fair number of bay leaves. This time layer the fish with all of these ingredients interspersed fairly evenly among the little fishies. Cover with vinegar.
Kadesma, if you don't like these seasonings, you could make your own variation. These are wonderful, though, with the onions taking on a delicious crispness and crunch and the berries and the peppercorns softening to the point of being very edible should that appeal.
When it's time to serve these (again, keep in the fridge), fish a few out and drizzle some olive oil over them if you wish. As mentioned before, just superb with a small glass of straight vodka right from the freezer ...