Sartheles Psites (Baked Sardines With Garlic and Oregano)

Baked sardines on a plate
Fotosearch / Getty Images
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Yield: 12 to 16 sardines
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
341 Calories
19g Fat
35g Carbs
11g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 341
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 3g 13%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 64mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 35g 13%
Dietary Fiber 11g 41%
Protein 11g
Calcium 119mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A favorite dish all over Greece, sartheles psites (In Greek: σαρδέλες ριγανάτες, pronounced sar-THEH-les ree-ghah-NAH-tes) showcases fresh sardines by baking these little fish in a simple mixture of oil, Greek oregano, garlic, and lemon juice. The dish is easy to make—the hardest part of this recipe may be finding fresh sardines; unfortunately, canned just won't taste the same. And once you score some of this fresh fish, you need to eat them the same day; sardines don't freeze well and will rot quickly.

Before cooking, the sardines need to be scaled and their intestines removed, keeping the heads intact. If you aren't comfortable doing this, you can ask the fishmonger to prep the fish for you. As this is a Greek recipe, it's important you use Greek oregano; Italian or Mexican have different flavor profiles and won't result in the dish's authentic taste. And when adding to the dish, don't skimp, as this herb gives the sardines its traditional flavor.

Serve these baked sardines as an appetizer or light entree when having friends over on a warm summer night; sartheles psites will please even the sardine-skeptics and impress your guests. This fish pairs nicely with other Greek dishes such as pan-seared saganaki (fried cheese), Greek salad, dolmathakia (stuffed grape leaves), and souvlaki.

Ingredients

  • 12 to 16 (2 to 2 1/2 pounds) fresh sardines
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons rigani (Greek oregano), more or less to taste
  • 5 to 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

  2. Remove the scales and intestines from the sardines, leaving the heads intact.

  3. Lay the sardines in a baking pan and top with the remaining ingredients, sprinkling the salt, pepper, and oregano evenly.

  4. Bake for about 15 minutes until the fish are golden and the skin is crispy.

  5. Serve and enjoy.

How to Clean Sardines

These little fish don't need a lot of attention and cleaning them is easier than you might think. To remove the scales, simply dip the fish in water and then using your fingers, rub the skin. Since sardines are clean fish, you don't need to remove the innards; if they will bother you (or your guests), cut the fish up the length of the middle (keeping the head intact), rinse the insides, pull out the innards using your finger, and then rinse the sardines again.

How Do I Eat Sardines?

In Greece, it does not go unnoticed when someone eats sardines with a fork and a knife. Locals will eat sardines with their hands, pulling off the head along with the backbone and then picking up the flesh and skin with their fingers. Some people even eat the entire fish—head and all.

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