From Fatma Charif who in 1974 spent a lot of time furthering my culinary education in Algiers. You can use any small fillet you like such as Mediterranean mullet, fillets of ocean perch, smelts, fillets of tinker mackerel, etc.
1 cup olive oil
2 pounds fresh large sardines or pilchards, dressed
unbleached all-purpose flour as needed
6 large cloves garlic, finly chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 to 6 tiny dried Tabasco peppers (piments oiseaux), to your personal taste, chopped into a powder
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or ˝ teaspoon dried
1 Mediterranean bay leaf, crumbled
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
pepper from the mill
Heat 1/3 cup of the oil in a large skillet. Toss the sardines in just enough salted flour to coat them lightly. Fry the sardines on both side over high heat until golden, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a cutting board and let set until cool enough to handle. Bone each fish, then replace the top fillet on the bottom fillet. Arrange the sardines head to tail in a large dish. Cool completely.
Add the remaining olive oil to the pan; add the garlic and cook, stirring, over medium heat until beige, then add the onion and carrot and sauté until wilted. Add the paprika, cumin, Tabasco powder, thyme, and bay leaf. Remove the pan from the heat, let it cool to lukewarm, and whisk in the vinegar and water; bring back to a high boil and continue boiling happily for 10 to 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and pour bright hot over the cool sardines.
Cool to room temperature and cover with plastic wrap; punch small holes in the plastic and marinate 24 to 36 hours in the refrigerator. Serve chilled with good crispy bread
country : Algeria
course : fish dish
source : The New Making of a Cook : The Art, Techniques, and Science of Good Cooking / Madeleine Kamman