Grilled Sardine Rolls with Umeboshi and Shiso Leaves
This is easy and quick, since there's no deep frying! With a refreshing taste that enhances the natural flavors, it really whets your appetite. This can be made with either horse mackerel or Pacific saury. It also goes well with drinks.
Mince the umeboshi to make a paste. Cut off the heads of the sardines, remove the guts and bones, then fillet. Butterfly them if they're on the smaller side.
Blot the excess moisture from the sardines with a paper towel, then spread the umeboshi paste from Step 1 over the inside flesh. Place a shiso leaf on each fillet, then wrap and secure with a toothpick.
Arrange the sardines in a non-stick frying pan (otherwise, use a small amount of vegetable oil), then fry over medium heat. Each side should take only about 30 seconds.
Once they are nicely browned, pour in the soy sauce and sake, then cover with a lid. Steam-cook for about 2 minutes on low heat, then remove the toothpicks and serve.
Story Behind this Recipe
I always get excited when they're selling butterflied and dried sardines or horse mackerel.
Since the fish will be seasoned with the pickled plum, the modest amounts of seasoning in the recipe are all you need. I recommend a simple taste for this dish.