Seasoned simply with chilli and lemon and popped on the barbecue, these succulent sardines are the ideal summer supper. A crisp, dry white wine will bring out the flavour of the fish. Sauvignon Blanc Val de Loire, with its bright citrus fruit, is a wonderful choice.
In a small bowl, mix together the lemon zest and 2 tsp lemon juice with the chilli, garlic and oil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Cut small slits on one side of each sardine. Rub the lemon and oil mixture all over the sardines, rubbing well into the slits and body cavity.
Cook the sardines on a preheated barbecue (or over a medium-high heat in a griddle pan) for 3 minutes each side, until cooked through and the flesh flakes away easily from the bone. Put the lemon halves, cut-side-down, next to the fish for the final 3 minutes of the cooking time.
Serve the sardines with a few drops of Tabasco, the grilled lemon halves and the mixed salad.
Tip: If buying the sardines from the fish counter in store, you can ask the fishmonger to gut the fish for you. Alternatively, insert a sharp knife into the base of each fish approximately 2cm (1in) from the tail, run the knife along the base finishing at the head. Open-out a little, then starting at the head end – run your thumb along the inside (wear disposable rubber glove, if you like) to remove the guts and discard. Rinse the cavity under cold running water to clean thoroughly. (If there are any scales on the fish remove by running a blunt knife over the skin, then rinse under running water.)
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