Chef's Recipes

Escabeche of sardines, saffron and tapenade

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for escabeche of sardines, saffron and tapenade by Donovan Cooke from The Atlantic, Melbourne.

By Donovan Cooke
  • 25 mins preparation
  • 15 mins cooking plus cooling
  • Serves 4
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Escabeche of sardines, saffron and tapenade
"The acidity from the vinegar in the escabeche cuts through the oiliness of the sardines," says Cooke, "and the saltiness of the tapenade balances the whole dish."


  • 125 ml (½ cup) olive oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • 5 large Dutch carrots, thinly sliced on an angle
  • 100 ml white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup (loosely-packed) coriander
  • 12 sardines, filleted
  • 1/3 baguette, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, cut in half
  • To serve: micro-coriander
  • 150 gm (1 cup) Kalamata olives, pitted
  • 25 gm anchovy fillets
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 25 ml olive oil


  • 1
    For tapenade, process olives, anchovies and garlic in a small food processor until finely chopped, then gradually add olive oil until smooth. Season to taste and set aside.
  • 2
    Heat 100ml olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add onion, garlic, coriander seeds and saffron, and stir occasionally until tender (3-4 minutes). Add carrots, vinegar and 25ml water, and simmer until carrots are just tender (4-5 minutes). Remove from heat, add coriander leaves and season to taste.
  • 3
    Preheat grill to high. Brush sardines lightly with remaining olive oil, season to taste, place skin-side up on a lightly oiled baking tray and grill until just cooked (1-2 minutes). Transfer to a serving plate, spoon on hot escabeche and cool to room temperature.
  • 4
    Toast bread under grill, turning once (1-2 minutes each side), rub with cut garlic and spread with tapenade, and serve with sardine escabeche scattered with micro-coriander.


Drink Suggestion: 2011 Mount Mary Triolet blend, Yarra Valley. Drink suggestion by Garrett Donovan