This is a modern take on an old classic using fresh sardines. The toast is also important. When I was a child I remember toast being made on top of a Rayburn stove. The bread was held in a wire basket, laid on the hotplate, and when one side was done, you turned it over to toast the other side. I’m not sure I ever remember toasting bread in front of the fire, muffins or crumpets, yes, but not bread. Anyway, the point is since the advent of electric toasters, speed has become the over-riding factor when making toast. It is still a comforting staple, but sometimes (such as when on holiday) it’s good to take time and discover toast in its different guises. If you are barbequing the sardines, which is what I would recommend, then toast the bread on the barbeque too. When I haven’t got a barbeque lit, I instead use a hot, cast iron, ribbed griddle pan. This works excellently, just like cooking it on the hotplate of a range.
Now to the bread: Ideally you want one made with wild yeast – a sourdough as it is often called, failing that try to find a rustic loaf with a chewy texture.
The sardines should be cleaned (gutted) then seasoned with salt and pepper before laying them over hot coals. They are a little delicate once gutted, so have a tendency to break up when you turn them but don’t worry about this – they don’t need to look too neat.
Whilst the sardines and the toast are cooking, prepare the fresh “tomato sauce”. This involves nothing more than cutting tomatoes into quarters, discarding the pips so that they do not make the bread too soggy, then roughly chopping the flesh. Put them in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, a little balsamic vinegar if you have some, and then a touch of olive oil. Tear up some basil leaves (again if you have them – not all of this is likely to be to hand if you are camping) and mix everything together.
When the toast is cooked rub one side with the cut side of a clove of garlic and drizzle over a little olive oil. Top with the tomatoes and then cooked sardine fillets (or pieces) lifted from the bones for ease of eating.
To read the full article that relates to this recipe see Food Culture – A Taste of Britain on Sea