A really fun new weekly pop-up restaurant called Sardine Head opened in Portland a little over a month ago, at famous Sweedeedee, a beloved breakfast and lunch spot. Fun fact: the team behind Myrtlewood first became good friends over weekly breakfasts at Sweedeedee the first few months they were open, before they had a sign and before they had the lines! I digress. The point of excitement here is that maybe people in this town are starting to appreciate sardines more, if a restaurant with oily tinned fish in its name is doing well. I wrote this recipe (more of a guide to making good and easy tinned fish sandwiches of all kinds), and we photographed it years ago, but it's seeing an audience for the very first time right now. If you live in Portland, go to Sardine Head yourself and check it out! And then swing by Ardor Natural Wines (great new shop/our pairing partners for Secret Restaurant Portland), pick up a great bottle, make these sandwiches, and create your own Sardine Head experience at home. If you don't live in Portland, do the latter but seek our your own source for minimal-intervention wines and make the sandwich. Or just enjoy this picture and the idea of the sandwich and the wine.
Sorrel & Sardine Sandwich with Labneh & Lemon
- one tin of Matiz Gallego 'Sardines with Lemon'
- (other sardines will do, but these really are the nicest readily available in lots of grocery stores)
- good, simple hearth bread (no seeds/nuts/olives here, but sourdough, natural leaven, or alternative flours are a plus)
- labneh (middle eastern yogurt cheese, you could easily use cream cheese, fromage blanc, chèvre—spreadable, not-too-stinky cheese, hopefully with a piquant quality to it)
- lemon juice, salt, black pepper
- sorrel leaves
This is a generous dinner for one, or a small part of a more complete, shared meal for three.
Slice the bread about 3/4 inch thick. Get three good slices from the center of the loaf. Drizzle some olive oil or the oil from the sardine can on the bread. Spread with labneh. Drizzle more oil. Gently lift the sardines from the tin, opening them up as you go. Check to see if the bones are totally soft. If not, remove them. Sprinkle the fish with lemon juice.
Roll the sorrel leaves into a cigar shape, and slice the roll every 1/2 inch or so, to create little strips. Arrange pleasingly. The lemony quality of the sorrel is delicious with the sardines. Sorrel isn't exactly common at the grocery store, but it does frequently turn up at farmer's markets and is easy to grow. It's a biennial, and this sandwich came about first because it was the first thing to reappear in my garden. If you can't track down sorrel, use arugula or spinach or watercress tossed with lemon juice.
Season with black pepper and flaky salt.