This recipe was developed for Krone and first appeared on their site. Here I’ve adapted my original post slightly in order to make it blog-relevant.
Cooking on the shores of Britannia Bay on the Cape West Coast, I developed this recipe for salt-rubbed harder with a wild greens pesto in celebration of simple flavours and sustainable ingredients.
I’d wanted to realise my concept of a table set seaside for a while and so was overjoyed when the good folks over at Krone asked me to orchestrate a styled West Coast Christmas-themed shoot. Choosing beach treasures over plastic baubles is definitely more my vibe. Calling the charmingly periwinkle Blou Huisie home for the next few days, we set up my vintage table and chairs right on the shoreline, using summer’s early pearly sunrises as a backdrop. As for the food, I wanted to avoid the usual roasts (so very strange to enjoy during South Africa’s December climes) and opt for local seafood in the form of Saldanha Bay mussels and harders fresh off the boats in Velddrif.
What exactly is a harder you ask? Well what sardines are to Portugal, harders are to the West Coast…
Small silvery fish from the mullet family, like other oily fish, harders hold up particularly well to being cooked over the coals, especially when rubbed with coarse salt and served with a verdantly green pesto made from indigenous herbs. An extra bouquet of the dune sage and wild rosemary tossed over the fire flavours the harders as they cook, while a bright squeeze of lemon juice over the top of the fish ensures they stay juicy.
Complimenting the harders’ delicate flavour, the saline complexity of Krone’s Borealis Cuvée Brut makes the ideal pairing for this simplest of seafoods, while the MCC’s bright acidity of kumquat and naartjie lend zest to the earthy aromatics of wild rosemary and sage.
Salt-rubbed Harders with a wild greens pesto
Prep time: 20 mins /Cook time: 10 mins /Serves: 4
You will need:
- 8-12 fresh harders or sardines, scaled and gutted
- 500g coarse West Coast sea salt
- large sprigs of dune sage (Salvia africana-lutea) or flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- large sprigs of wild rosemary (Eriocephalus africanus) or regular rosemary, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- The zest and juice of a large lemon plus an extra lemon for squeezing over the fish
- Olive oil
- Coarse ground sea salt
Combine a tablespoon of the dune sage with the coarse sea salt. Rub the salt all over the harders, taking care to not get any into the belly cavity. Set the fish aside.
Combine the chopped herbs, garlic, lemon zest and juice with a few generous glugs of olive oil. Season the pesto with a pinch of salt and combine to the desired consistency.
Shake the excess salt from the harders and braai the fish over hot to medium coals for 3-5 minutes per side, squeezing over fresh lemon juice. The harders are ready once the skin is golden and the flesh pulls away easily from the bones.
Serve the harders with the wild greens pesto, lemon wedges, crusty bread and a chilled bottle of Krone Borealis Cuvée Brut.