Garlic and Lemon Sardines with Asparagus

Lesley Waters' garlicky marinated sardines are fried until crisp and served warm or at room temperature with tender asparagus and creamy mustard butter sauce
By Lesley Waters
Garlic and Lemon Sardines with Asparagus
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes plus 45 mins standing
  • Effort: easy


For the sardines

  • 16 sardines, cleaned, boned, heads removed
  • 2 lemons, juice only
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the asparagus

  • 55 g butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 16 asparagus
  • black pepper

For the mustard butter sauce

  • 150 ml double cream
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 lemon, juice only
  • 30 g butter
  • snipped chives
  • freshly ground salt and black pepper


1. For the sardines, split the fish along the belly and open out. Arrange flesh side up in a shallow casserole dish. Pour over the lemon juice, sprinkle with salt and leave to stand for 45 minutes.

2. Dry the sardines on absorbent paper and fold back into their original shape. In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Shallow fry the sardines on a medium heat until crisp - about 2-3 minutes on each side.

3. Return the cooked sardines to a clean shallow dish. Mix the olive oil and garlic together and drizzle over the fish. Season with black pepper.

4. For the asparagus, heat the oil and butter in a large shallow pan, and fry the asparagus over a low heat for 2 minutes. Cover the pan and cook for a further 5-7 minutes until the stems are tender. While the asparagus is cooking, make the mustard butter sauce.

5. For the sauce, simmer the cream with the mustard, lemon juice and a grind of salt and pepper for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the butter and chives and season to taste.

6. To serve, drizzle the sauce over the asparagus and serve with the sardines.

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