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Sardines with fennel and orange

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for sardines with fennel and orange.

By Rodney Dunn
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 15 mins cooking
  • Serves 4
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Sardines with fennel and orange
There's something special about the rich oiliness of sardines. Get whole sardines if you can - they're amazing - but butterflied fillets will suffice for this dish. Fennel and orange are classic accompaniments for good reason - they cut through and balance the sardines' flavour. For something truly special, try cooking the sardines over coals - sardines love smoke.


  • 50 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 baby fennel bulbs, fronds reserved
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • Zested rind of 1 orange
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp Pernod
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 12 whole sardines
  • For brushing: olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


  • 1
    Heat olive oil in a large frying pan, add onion and garlic and sauté over low heat until onion is very tender (7-8 minutes).
  • 2
    Finely dice 1 fennel bulb, add to pan with fennel seeds and sauté until fennel begins to soften (3-4 minutes). Add orange zest and juice, Pernod and vinegar, increase heat to high and reduce until syrupy (1 minute). Season to taste and set aside.
  • 3
    Preheat a char-grill pan over high heat. Brush sardines with oil and season, add to char-grill and cook, turning once until just cooked (2-3 minutes each side). Spoon fennel and orange onto serving plate, top with grilled sardines. Using a mandolin, thinly shave remaining fennel and toss with a few reserved fennel fronds and the lemon juice, then scatter over sardines and serve immediately.