10.1.8 Another Alexandrian sauce for grilled fish
pepper, lovage, green coriander, onion, stoned damsons, passum, liquamen, defrutum and cook it.
We saw the fishmonger the other day. He had some really gorgeous looking sardines in. I found them irresistable, which was a little bit of a logistical problem. We canceled the rest of the day’s plans so I could get them home and prepared as soon as possible. They were that fresh.
Happily, all of the ingredients were easily available, which was a surprise this late in the season.
A couple of months ago we went to the wine making supply shop and bought almost 70 lbs of grape juice, fresh pressed to order. We made a gallon and a half of defrutum, and the rest into sapa.
I used this and some bortyrised wine trying to pass itself off as a tokaj as the passum.
There was a nice second round of lovage in the garden, and plums were still available at the fruit stand. Not damsons, but plums nonetheless, and they worked out acceptably well..
All of the solid ingredients were chopped and simmered.. A lid would have been helpful, but it was forgotten. Some of the water evaporated, leaving a denser, more caramelised sauce.
I did use a potato masher as the solids softened, and considering the intended audience, I strained the sauce well before plating.
Other recipes for grilling fish (Scappi, not entirely relevant) mentioned leaving the scales on the fish, and gutting them as cleanly as possible.
The scales insulated the very delicate meat, and allowed the skin to come off very cleanly. That was a factor in protecting the delicate flesh, as well as in being more easily able to present the fish at table.
Serve with lots of napkins, and plan to do laundry.
3-4 sardines per person,
4 large plums or 8 smaller ones,
4 oz whole cilantro plant, preferably including roots
5 oz reduced grape juice
3 oz fish sauce
a baseball sized onion (I had a leek)
2 -3 oz fresh lovage, or the leaves from one bunch of celery
Coarsely chop all of the fruits and vegetables. Place in a pot with the liquid ingredients, and simmer until fully cooked.
Grill, roast, pan fry, or otherwise prepare the fish as you are most comfortable doing.
The prescribed method calls for carefully placing the fish on skewers and grilling by charcoal, which is an excellent and delicious method.
Mash the sauce well, in order to release juices from the fruit. Strain and place on the plate, or in a separate dipping bowl.