11thin rye loaf slices, cut into 5cm x 3cm pieces2 tbspextra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing1baby fennel bulb, shaved5button mushrooms, shaved on a mandolin2 tbspcoarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley50 gmbottarga, shavedMarinated sardines160 ml(2/3 cup) white wine vinegar160 mlwhite wine1 tspfennel seeds1fresh bay leaf1lemon, zested rind only8sardine fillets (or 4 butterflied sardines)
For marinated sardines, combine all ingredients except sardines in a saucepan, bring to the boil over high heat, then remove from heat and stand until cool(30-40 minutes). Place sardines in a non-reactive dish in a single layer, cover with marinade and stand for 1 hour at room temperature to lightly cure.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C. Place bread in a single layer on a baking tray, brush lightly with oil and bake, turning once, until toasted (10-15 minutes). Set aside.
Combine fennel, mushrooms and parsley in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and 1 tbsp marinade, season to taste and toss lightly to combine. Remove sardines from remaining marinade, cut each into four pieces, place one piece on each croûton, top with salad, then a little bottarga, and serve.
This recipe is from the March 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet