For those of you who have looked at the recipe for Sardines with a Pine Nut and Raisin Stuffing and thought – I haven’t the first idea of how to bone a sardine! – this is for you.
The scales on sardines are not at all sharp or well attached, they are more like thin plastic discs. To remove them, hold the fish by its head and with an ordinary eating knife that has not got a serrated blade, run the blade from the tail towards the head and this will detach the scales. Do this all over the fishes body until the scales are all loose. Wipe them off with kitchen roll, then rinse the fish to remove any remaining scales and wipe them dry. Wash your chopping board and the work area to remove any scales. They are a bit sticky and peskily adhere to your tools.
Now for the boning.
Cut the head off the fish and discard.
Tuck your fingers into the belly cavity and open the body along the underneath of the belly.
With you fingers prise the backbone away from the flesh along one side of the fish until you can open the fish out flat.
Then prise the backbone away from the flesh of the other side of the fish until it is only attached at the tail.
Cut the backbone off with a knife or scissors.
There will be a fin on one side of the fish that was below the stomach, cut this off and scrape away any guts.
If the fish are large then check whether there are any remaining bones and remove them.
Wipe the fish with kitchen roll. You are now ready to do your recipe.