Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Fried Sardine Birthday Dinner
Sweet, sweet birthdays. Even if I am not always excited about the age I am turning, which happens sometimes, I am always excited to have a birthday party. I may love throwing birthdays for other people even more than having my own. Each of the girls' first birthdays had about as much planning as a royal wedding. No detail is too small to mull and consider.
My favorite parties are the ones I've thrown with my sister. We can obsess over everything with both seriousness and enthusiasm. What paper flower garlands to get from the forty or so choices lining the wall at Pearl River in Chinatown, we can discuss the merits and pros and cons of each for hours. There is fun in the details: for the party planner the party lasts days, weeks.
Serena is also really good at sorting out what kind of cake suits the birthday person, the season, the location. She can also figure out how to make anything, which continues to impress me. As the recipient of her thoughtful, beautifully decorated cakes, you feel the world stop for a moment, and smile upon you.
Then there are presents. Over time one of our favorite gifts to give and receive is a special meal. One of the last we shared with my mom and sister was Serena's birthday, she wanted fried chicken, and she got it. This year for Craig's birthday, he wanted sardines, fried sardines. He wanted to make them, so one of my quiet presents to him was to not complain, not one utterance, about the smell.
Craig wanted a quiet dinner this year, and respecting the wishes of the birthday person a critical point in being a good party participant. But, I did wish for more family at the table that night, mom and Serena among them. I wished there were a few more people to enjoy this fresh, rich, tiny fried fish. I wanted more people besides spoiled me and our spoiled girls to savor and celebrate the beauty Craig's life brings ours, everyday.
Mayo for fried sardines
Finely chop some fresh chives w/flowers. Finely chop about a tablespoon of rinsed, salt packed capers. Finely mince a tiny bit of fresh fennel fronds. Add all to a small bowl of mayonnaise. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and mix.
Clean and fillet some sardines. Lightly salt the fillets and let rest. Add a dash of salt, some ground black pepper and some finely minced fresh rosemary to a bowl of corn meal or flour. Mix, then dredge the sardines. Shake off excess. Fry in a mix of olive oil and grape seed oil until golden and the skin begins to blister. Sprinkle a tiny bit of sea salt on top. Serve with mayo and more lemon juice, if you like.