Pan-fried sardines with Parma ham, piquillo peppers and basil

Preparation time
less than 30 mins

Cooking time
10 to 30 mins

Serves 4

Sardines filled with sweet peppers, aromatic basil and wrapped in Parma ham served with herby cockles and new potatoes.

Saturday Kitchen Chefs - Michel Roux Jr
By Michel Roux Jr.
  • 250g/9oz Jersey Royals
  • 4 sardines, cleaned, filleted and butterflied (ask your fishmonger to do this)
  • 100g/3½oz jarred piquillo peppers, drained and thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch basil, leaves thinly sliced
  • 6 thin slices Parma ham
  • 500g/1lb 2oz cockles, cleaned and scrubbed
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 100g/3½oz samphire
  • 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch dill, finely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the Jersey Royals and cook for 10–15 minutes, or until soft to the point of a knife.

  2. Meanwhile, open up the sardines and lay the peppers and basil on top. Season with salt and pepper then fold the top fillet over. Wrap each pair of fillets in a slice of ham and hold together with a wooden cocktail stick.

  3. Pan-fry the sardines in a dry non-stick fry pan for 2–3 minutes on each side, or until they are golden, crisp and cooked through.

  4. Discard any cockles with broken shells and any that refuse to close when tapped. Put the cockles in a large, lidded saucepan placed over a high heat with a splash of water. Add the garlic and thyme and steam until the cockles have opened. Discard any cockles that remain closed.

  5. Drain the potatoes and set aside to steam dry.

  6. Pick the cockle meat from the shells and put into a clean bowl, discarding the shells. Strain the cooking liquid onto the cockles, add the samphire, vinegar, shallot and dill and season. Mix well.

  7. Divide the sardines and potatoes between two plates, pour over the samphire and cockles and serve.

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