In the Moroccan dialect, they are called sardines m’joujine (السردين المتزوجات). Married sardines or sardines mariées can be fried or grilled.
What are sardines mariées (married sardines)?
Sardines mariées are sardine filets that are stuffed with chermoula, a marinade that is as much part of the Moroccan cooking heritage as couscous. This condiment with specific spices and herbs accompany all kinds of fish but also many other recipes, hot to cold.
In the classic version, the ubiquitous chermoula is a mixture of cilantro, cumin, parsley, garlic, paprika, lemon and olive oil. Some add turmeric and chili to the marinade for a spicy and colored result.
In Morocco, people eat lots of fish and especially sardines. It is not surprising as Morocco is the world’s largest producer of sardines.
The city of Morocco that is best known for its production of sardines is Safi (آسفي) on the Atlantic coast. If you travel through this port, you need to sample the fresh caught sardines with toasted cumin on one of the docks.
Sardine is a cheap and healthy fish, which happens to be very rich in vitamins and Omega 3. It is ideal for BBQ, but grilling sardines means a very strong smell.
Here are a few tips to eliminate or at least minimize these strong odors when grilling sardines indoors.
First, just rub the filets with bay leaves on both sides, then pour a few drops of white vinegar over the coals. Meanwhile, squeeze two lemons in a little water, pour a little lavender, thyme and rosemary and heat the mixture over low heat all throughout the grilling even several minutes after.
You have no more excuses. Don’t just enjoy sardines in cans. Grill them. You won’t be disappointed with these sardines mariées !
- 8 sardines (or 16 sardine filets)
- Vegetable oil
- ½ bunch cilantro (only leaves), chopped
- ½ bunch parsley , chopped
- 3 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 tablespoons paprika (or ñora)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- Mix all the chermoula ingredients in a mortar and mash well.
- Clean and gut the sardines.
- Wash and drain the sardine filets. Butterfly the fish.
- Take a sardine filet, lay it flat and coat generously with chermoula on the flesh side.
- Take another filet and place it flesh side down on top of the other filet to cover it.
- Proceed similarly with all of the sardine filets and the rest of the chermoula.
- Put sardines in the refrigerator and marinate for 1 hour.
- Brush each of the sardines with vegetable oil.
- Lay the sardines inside a fish grilling basket.
- Grill for 5 to 7 minutes on each side or more depending on the size of the sardines.