crudopic.jpg
Geoffrey Smith
To celebrate the tradition of eating oil-drenched foods on Hanukkah, Voracious this year asked local chefs to provide recipes calling for oily, sustainable

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Ethan Stowell's Sardine Solution to Greasy Latkes

crudopic.jpg
Geoffrey Smith
To celebrate the tradition of eating oil-drenched foods on Hanukkah, Voracious this year asked local chefs to provide recipes calling for oily, sustainable fish. Here, Ethan Stowell presents a sardine crudo (made with plenty of olive oil, for extra holiday credit.)

Sardine Crudo with Celery Hearts, Pine Nuts, and Lemon

If you simply can't get past the idea that sardines are oily and fishy, let this crudo change your mind. The key to this dish is using sweet celery hearts--the tender, yellow, innermost bits of the head. You might think of this as the part of the celery that goes in the compost pile, but the truth is that the small yellow leaves have incredible flavor, and the pale stalks add texture without strings. As with all crudos, use your very best olive oil.

Ingredients

8 fresh sardines

1 lemon

3 center ribs celery with leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons pine nuts

To prepare the fish, lay out a sardine on your cutting board and begin by cutting off the head, or simply pull it off by bending it back and tugging. Next, using a small, sharp knife, cut a slit down the belly and remove and discard the innards. Gently pry open the sardine to butterfly the fish and lay it flat like a book. Run your fingers along and underneath the backbone, beginning with the head and moving toward the tail.

Loosen the backbone and ribs from the flesh and lift, taking out the tail with the bones. Remove any stray bones with tweezers and cut the fillet in half lengthwise. Repeat with the remaining fish.

Lay the lemon on its side and cut a slice off the top and bottom of the fruit, then stand it on a flat end. Using a sharp knife and following the curve of the fruit, slice down the sides of the lemon, removing all the peel and pith to reveal the fruit. Once the peel and pith are removed, hold the lemon in your palm. Cut along the membrane on each side of the individual sections and allow the flesh to fall into a bowl. When the lemon is sectioned, coarsely chop the flesh and return to the bowl. Squeeze the remaining membrane into the bowl to catch all the lemon juice. Set aside.

Pinch off the leaves from the celery ribs and place in a bowl. You should end up with about 1/4 cup of celery leaves in all. Slice the ribs very thinly crosswise and add to the leaves. Season with salt and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the pine nuts and toss.

To serve, place 4 fillets, skin side up, on each of 4 plates. Drizzle each serving with 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Divide the lemon and juice among the plates, spooning them on top of the fillets. Finally, top each with one-fourth of the celery and pine nut salad. Serve immediately.

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Reprinted with permission from Ethan Stowell's New Italian Kitchen: Bold Cooking from Seattle's Anchovies & Olives, How to Cook a Wolf, Staple & Fancy Mercantile, and Tavolàta. Copyright © 2010 by Ethan Stowell and Leslie Miller. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.

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