Iwashi no Shioyaki—Salt Grilled Sardines
Makes 4 servings
Eight 6-inch iwashi (sardines)
1 1/2 tablespoons fine sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse salt
1. Rinse the sardines under cold running water, and pat dry. Cut open the bottom 1/4 of the belly on a cutting board, and remove the gills and intestines. Cut the head off the head and pull away with your knife (or leave the head on). Rinse the inside of the belly with cold water. Make a brine by mixing 1 quart of cold water with 1 1/2 tablespoons of fine sea salt. Rinse the fish in the brine. Pat the fish completely dry.
2. Take 1/4 teaspoon or more of salt between your thumb and forefinger and press it onto the tail, gill flaps, and fins, and work the salt in with your fingers. This will protect these parts and give them a nice white crust when they cook. Now lightly salt the entire fish.
3. Preheat the grill for high heat (this prevents the fish from sticking to the rack). Once it has heated, lightly oil the grill grate.
4. Place the fish on the grill presentation side down. Grill until the skin is browned and crispy, about 3 — 4 minutes. With chopsticks and a rubber or wood spatula if necessary (tongs will tear the fish apart), gently turn the fish over and grill the other side until done, which will take about the same amount of time. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and soy sauce.