This recipe post was originally intended to be about what I made for lunch. But the sauce I made was so delicious (really!) that I decided it deserved its very own entry, lest it be lost and forgotten with the fried sardines. It’s actually a wonderfully versatile sauce, and although it’s particularly nice with oily dark fish, like sardines, herring, or mackerel, I imagine it would also be lovely served, say, as an accompaniment to grilled shrimp, or even with more delicate fish like cod or sole (perhaps for dinner, with some boiled new potatoes). You could even put it on bruschetta and serve it on its own. It’s not as funky and robust as you might expect given the garlic and the anchovies; rather, it’s a bright lemony sauce with just a hint of sweet, and the anchovy and garlic add complexity and depth. I adore anchovies, but I bet you could serve this sauce to an anchovy hater, and not only would they not realize that the earthy flavour comes from anchovies, they would LOVE the sauce. And it’s quick and easy to prepare, using ingredients you (most likely) already have in your kitchen.
Two large ripe tomatoes, halved, seeded, and grated (To grate tomatoes, just rub the fleshy side of half a tomato against the coarse part of a grater until you reach the skin.)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2-3 anchovy filets, finely minced
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon brined capers, finely minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon sugar
Salt to taste
Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and then sauté the garlic until just transparent (do not allow to brown). Stir in the grated tomatoes and the red pepper flakes (if using), and cook for about two minutes, or until the tomatoes have started to turn golden.
Add the minced anchovies and capers and cook for another one to two minutes, stirring frequently to prevent browning. Transfer this sauce to a bowl and add the lemon juice and zest, remaining olive oil, and sugar. Stir to combine, and then add additional salt, if needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This sauce should keep, covered, in your refrigerator for three to five days.
Makes about half a cup.