No-fuss fish: Seven-spice sardines & cauliflower with garlic yogurt

No-fuss fish: Seven-spice sardines & cauliflower with garlic yogurt

On the banks of the Golden Horn in Istanbul, little stalls fill the air with the glorious smell of grilling fish. The fish is served up in bread rolls with lettuce, slim slices of onion and a good squeeze of lemon juice. This is my version.


½ red onion, thinly sliced

juice of ½ lemon, plus wedges to serve

1 cauliflower (about 600g), broken into small florets, with any leaves saved and stalk chopped up

2 tbsp olive oil

4 butterflied sardines, about 200g total weight

1 tsp Baharat (seven-spice mix)

½ tsp dried mint

handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


125g plain yogurt

1 small garlic clove, schiacciato

zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

  • Preheat your oven to 190C/fan170C/gas 5. In a small bowl, submerge the onion in the lemon juice and set aside.
  • Toss the cauliflower florets and any leaves and stalk with the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of water in a large roasting tin. Season and roast for about 20 minutes until tender and burnished at the edges.
  • While the cauliflower is roasting, make the garlic yogurt. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic and lemon zest; season and set aside.
  • Remove the roasting tin from the oven and preheat your grill to high. Pop the sardines into a bowl and rub with the Baharat and dried mint, along with some salt and black pepper. Lie the sardines skin-side up on top of the cauliflower. Grill for 3 minutes until the flesh is opaque and the skin is blistered. Sprinkle the marinated onions and parsley over the top and serve with the garlic yogurt and lemon wedges on the side, for squeezing.

ALSO WORKS WELL WITH Whole sardines: cut a few slashes into each side before grilling. Whole mackerel (you’ll only need 2): cut slashes into the skin before grilling; these will need about 5–6 minutes per side. Mackerel fillets: these should take about 5 minutes to grill.

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