Grilled Sardines, Tomato Tart Tatin, with Spiced Shallot Ketchup

Serves:  2 – lunch or 4 – starter
Prep: 30 minutes
Cooking: 60 minutes approx.


Love sardines?  This is a great way to enjoy their simple charms.
This Tomato Tart Tatin takes a simple grilled sardine up from that old classic, sardines on toast, to something a bit special.




4  Sardines, butterflied
Puff pastry – ready rolled is fine
4  Tomatoes
1 Red onion
4 Echalion shallots
40 g Sugar
Balsamic vinegar
Tomato ketchup (preferably the famous brand!)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Smoked paprika
1 Tbsp Chopped fresh oregano (thyme is also good)
1 tsp – Garam masala
1 tsp – Dried chilli flakes
1 tsp – Fenugreek seeds
1 tsp – Cumin seeds
Heritage cherry tomatoes garnish (optional)
Basil cress garnish (optional)
1 –  Egg

Allergens:  For those of you with allergies please remove or substitute accordingly


Ask your fishmonger to butterfly your sardines for you!

  • Turn your oven on (200C/180F/Gas 6).  Peel and cut the shallots in half and put on a roasting tray with the garam masala, dried chilli flakes, fenugreek seeds and cumin seeds.  Drizzle with oil and roast for 20 minutes.
  • Balsamic Vinegar Jam
    Whilst the shallots are cooking, make the red onion and balsamic vinegar jam. Thinly slice the onion put into a saucepan with a little olive oil, and allow to sweat over a medium heat.  Add 2 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar and reduce by about a half.  Add a squeeze of ketchup and 1 tsp of smoked paprika.  Cook for a few minutes stirring occasionally until you have a jammy consistency.
  • Take the roasted shallots out of the oven, these can either be put aside until you need them or placed straight into the blender.  Add a good squeeze of ketchup, 1 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar, and 2 Tbsp of olive oil.  Blend until smooth, if it appears not to be smooth enough you can push the mixture through a sieve.

  • Make the Tart Tatin.
    Remove the pastry from the packet and unroll, put to the side.
    In an ovenproof frying pan, put in a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil with 2 Tbsp. of ballsamic vinegar, the sugar and season with salt and pepper.  Slice the tomatoes, season generously with sea salt, and arrange them on the base of the pan.
  • Cover the tomatoes with the red onion and balsamic jam, and sprinkle over the chopped oregano (see picture below).
  • Now take the puff pastry, I used ready rolled (no shame nice and quick), and place it over the pan.
    Cut the pastry until you have a circular shape, just bigger than the pan.
    Cover the tomatoes pushing the pastry down and around the sides (see picture below).
    Place the tart in the oven and cook for around 40 minutes (200C/180Fan/Gas6).
  • Break the egg into a mug and whisk.
    After 30 minutes take the tart out of the oven, brush the pastry with the egg wash and return the tart to the oven.  Bake the tart for a further 10 minutes.
    When its firm to the touch and golden, remove from the oven and leave to rest for about 10 minutes (see picture below).

Tomato base for Tart
Pastry covering
Cooked golden brown



  • Turn the grill on High and leave to warm up.  Remember – always high for oily fish.
  • Now comes the fun bit, turning the tart out.
    Place a large plate over the top of the pan and turn them both over to release the tart.
    There should be a good amount of caramelisation around the edges of the tart.
    The tart should be still warm which is perfect for serving.
  • Slice the tart into 4 and put onto each plate,
    decorate the tart with any of the garnishes (if you are using them) and place 1 dessert spoon of the shallot ketchup (still warm is okay) at the side.
  • Oil a flat tray and season the sardines, both sides, placing the sardines on the tray skin side up.
    Place the sardines under a hot grill for approximately 3 minutes or until the skin is crispy.
    The sardines should now be cooked, remove them from the grill and place on top of the Tomato Tart Tatin.

Serve and Enjoy




This recipe was created and cooked by Pete Thompson for Steve Hatt Fishmongers.