Chef's Recipes

Pontoon's grilled sardines and harissa

Pontoon’s Lance Cameron guarantees that his grilled sardines and harissa are the ideal snack for all sardine lovers - especially with the butter puff pastry.

By Lance Cameron
  • 15 mins preparation
  • 12 mins cooking
Pontoon's grilled sardines and harissa

"I've always loved sardines, ever since I was a kid," says Pontoon chef Lance Cameron. "At Pontoon, I like to serve them with spicy harissa, and pickled radishes and shallots on crisp, buttery puff pastry. It's a really delicious snack if you like sardines. If you can't get fresh sardines at your local fishmonger, use blue mackerel instead." Start this recipe at least a day ahead to make the pickle.

Ingredients

  • 375 gm sheet butter puff pastry (see note)
  • 40 gm melted butter
  • 8 sardine fillets
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Dill sprigs, to serve
Pickled radish and shallots
  • 250 ml apple cider vinegar (1 cup)
  • 220 gm caster sugar (1 cup)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • ½ cinnamon quill
  • 8 small radishes, thinly shaved on mandolin
  • 6 golden shallots, thinly sliced
Harissa
  • 4 long red chillies
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp diced tomato
  • ½ tsp chilli powder

Method

Main
  • 1
    For pickles, bring ingredients except radish and shallot and 500ml water to the boil in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar, then reduce heat to low and simmer to infuse (5-6 minutes). Set aside to cool (10-12 minutes), then strain (discard solids). Combine radish and shallot in a sterilised 1-litre jar (see note), pour in pickling liquid, seal and refrigerate for a day and up to a week.
  • 2
    Preheat oven to 180C. Place puff pastry on a flat oven tray lined with baking paper, brush pastry with butter and sprinkle with sea salt. Place another sheet of baking paper on top, then another flat baking tray and bake until crisp and golden (8-9 minutes). Cool on a wire rack (10 minutes), then trim edges and cut into eight 5cm x 10cm rectangles with a serrated knife. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
  • 3
    Meanwhile, for harissa, heat a grill or barbecue to high and char-grill chillies, turning occasionally, until blackened and tender (10-12 minutes). Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to steam (10-12 minutes). Peel chillies, then process in a small food processor with remaining ingredients and 1 tsp salt to a smooth paste. Harissa will keep refrigerated for 2-3 days.
  • 4
    Brush sardines with oil and grill skin-side down without turning until charred (2 minutes), then turn and grill until just cooked (1 minute).
  • 5
    Top pastries with sardines, pickled radish and shallots, and dill sprigs, season with cracked black pepper and serve with harissa.

Notes

We've used Carême butter puff pastry, which is sold in 375gm sheets; it's available from delicatessens and most supermarkets. To streilise jars and lids, run them through the hot rinse cycle in a dishwasher, or wash them in hot soapy water, rinse well, plance on a tray in a cold oven and heat at 120C for 30 minutes.
Drink Suggestion: An Australian fiano, such as the 2015 Jericho Adelaide Hills Fiano. Drink suggestion by Jimmy Tantsis-Hall