Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Sardines With Eggplant

Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Master Chef Walter Potenza, GoLocalWorcester Food Expert

Serves 4

Try this unusual appetizer, simple and virtually no time constraint, even if this little fish here in the US provoke a bit of culinary panic. In the Mediterranean sardines and anchovies are workers’ food. The first sardine factory was founded in the town of Setubal in 1880 to overcome the shortage of fish on the Breton coast. In 1930 Portugal surpassed France to become the era’s largest producer; they still account for about a third of the fish brought to port each year. Sardines practically have their own holiday; on St. Anthony’s Day (June 13th) freshly grilled sardines are the street food of choice for celebrants. The Portuguese sardine season runs from May through October, which contributes to their popularity as beach food; grilled sardines, accompanied by potatoes, bread and a salad, are probably the summer meal in Portugal. In the USA sardines are available from Oregon and Washington State.


1 eggplant

1 tablespoon sugar

1 large chili pepper

1 tablespoon vinegar

24 fresh sardines

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 small sprig oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Flour for dredging


Slice the eggplant in thin rounds, and place flat on a dry skillet over medium heat. Cook until it starts to brown, about 2 minutes on each side, and transfer to a deep dish. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine the sugar with 1 tablespoon of water. Remove and discard the seeds and inner white ribbing from a chili pepper.

Slice into rounds, and add to the sugar mixture along with the vinegar. Cook, stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves. Pour over the eggplant, and set aside to marinate for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, clean, butterfly, and remove the bones from the sardines, and set aside. Place a piece of marinated eggplant between two butterflied sardines to make “12 sandwiches” and set aside, reserving the eggplant-chili pepper mixture for garnish. In a skillet over high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the oregano, and infuse the oil for about 3 minutes. Remove and discard the oregano. Adjust the flavors of the sardines-eggplant sandwiches with salt and pepper, dredge in flour, and add to the skillet. Fry until cooked through and golden, and set aside to drain on paper towels. Transfer to a platter, and garnish with radicchio, topped with the reserved marinated eggplant-chili pepper condiment.

Sardines health benefits

The name sardine can apply to any of several fish of the herring family. These fish, which grow up to 12 inches (30.48 cm) long, are often canned in oil or tomato sauce for human consumption and contain necessary nutrients, including vitamin D, calcium and omega fatty acids. Sardine health benefits from these ingredients include improvement in cardiovascular health, a stronger immune system and healthy bones. One of the most important of the sardine health benefits is a healthier cardiovascular system. Sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower triglycerides in the blood. Low triglyceride levels correspond to a decreased risk of blood clots and plaque buildup in the arteries. Serving whole grain pasta with sardines rather than white pasta gives more soluble fiber, which can reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, often called the bad cholesterol.

Master Chef Walter Potenza is the owner of Potenza Ristorante in Cranston, Chef Walters Cooking School and Chef Walters Fine Foods. His fields of expertise include Italian Regional Cooking, Historical Cooking from the Roman Empire to the Unification of Italy, Sephardic Jewish Italian Cooking, Terracotta Cooking, Diabetes and Celiac. Recipient of National and International accolades, awarded by the Italian Government as Ambassador of Italian Gastronomy in the World. Currently on ABC6 with Cooking Show “Eat Well." Check out the Chef's website and blog

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