Cured sardines with tomato butter

There’s nothing like a bit of bread after a trip to the beach. Try Sean Gravina’s recipe for this incredible bit of bread with cured sardines and tomato butter. 

Cured sardines with tomato butter


  • 18 butterflied sardines (about 400gm), pin-boned
  • 25g sea salt flakes, plus extra for seasoning
  • 125ml (½ cup) white wine vinegar
  • ½ bunch dill
  • ½ bunch thyme
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced
  • 450ml olive oil
  • 12 thick ciabatta slices
  • Tomato butter
  • 500g vine-ripened tomatoes, scored
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 100g softened butter


  1. Lay sardines in a single layer in a non-reactive dish, scatter with sea salt flakes and set aside to cure (45 mins).
  2. Add 1 tbsp vinegar to a non-reactive 2-litre container, cover with a lid, swirl to rinse, discard excess. Place remaining vinegar in a small bowl, dip sardines into vinegar (discard remaining) and layer in prepared container, alternating with herb sprigs and orange slices.
  3. Cover with oil (adding more, if necessary), cover with lid and refrigerate for flavours to develop (3 hours).
  4. For tomato butter, blanch and refresh tomatoes, peel, remove seeds and coarsely chop.
  5. Cook in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thick and deep red (40-50 mins). Season to taste with salt, set aside to cool.
  6. Dry-roast fennel seeds in a frying pan over low heat until fragrant, shaking pan occasionally (2-3 mins). Pound with a mortar and pestle until fine, set aside.
  7. Beat butter in an electric mixer until pale (1-2 mins), add fennel and tomato, beat to combine, then spoon onto plastic wrap, roll to form a firm cylinder and refrigerate until firm (1-2 hours).
  8. Preheat a char-grill over high heat. Grill ciabatta, turning once, until golden (1-2 mins each side).
  9. Serve with sardines and thick slices of tomato butter.

This recipe first appeared on Gourmet Today TV, aired on TVM on 7 August, 2016. 

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