S.A.L.T. Festive Feast: Malaga-Style Sardines

From sunny Malaga in southern Spain, its traditional grilled sardines, paired with Manzanilla Sherry, adds an exquisite touch to ring in the new year.

Asked about the holidays in Malaga, New York-based chef and restaurateur Alex Raij, owner of some of New York’s most respected Spanish restaurants, including La Vara, Txikito and Saint Julivert Fisherie, thought of sardines and sherry. “You can’t go to Malaga and not indulge in the tradition of grilled sardines beach-side. Start with the sardines and then follow with New Year’s Even campanadas,” she said of the local tradition of eating grapes as a countdown to midnight.

“These are easy to make at home since you don’t need to do much cleaning. You just need to be comfortable pinching your fish on the bone and sopping up the juices with grilled bread.” Raij, also the author of The Basque Book adds, “enjoy with Manzanilla Sherry for the win”


  • 12 fresh Sardines (I calculate 3 per person)
  • 4 large slices good boule shaped bread or 12 slices baguette cut on bias.
  • 1 cup salt
  • 5 cups water
  • Olive oil
  • Smoked sea salt
  • Garlic clove


  1. Rinse the sardines under cold running water massaging gently to release the scales (which are edible if you are grilling outdoors or indoors)
  2. Dissolve salt in water and soak the sardines in salted water 10 minutes
  3. Pat the sardines dry
  4. Prepare your grill or grill pan to medium hot
  5. Grill or char the bread, then rub with garlic clove to perfume it
  6. Drizzle the bread with good quality Spanish olive oil
  7. Brush sardines with just a little oil and grill for a few minutes on each side and top with a pinch of smoked sea salt
  8. Serve the sardines atop the toast to catch the juices
  9. Enjoy with Manzanilla Sherry for the win

Hungry for more? Don’t miss our holiday recipes for Faroese roast duck and Sicilian buccellati cookies.