Bar Bites: Grilled Sardines with Lemon, Garlic, and Paprika

Photograph: Marvin Gapultos

Despite their small size, fresh sardines have a lot going for them. They're rich in omega-3 fatty acids, so they're good for you. They're a sustainable source of seafood, so they're good for the oceans and planet. They're also incredibly inexpensive, so sardines are easy on your wallet as well. And with a rich, meaty flavor (think mackerel), sardines simply taste great—but especially so when grilled.

In fact, grilled sardines are a common menu item at many a Spanish tapas joint, where the small fish are enjoyed like corn-on-the-cob, eaten with the hands right off the bone (and yes, cutlery can be used as well).

When grilled, sardines usually need nothing more than a spritz of lemon juice and a sprinkling of sea salt. But I do like to marinate the strongly flavored fish in olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic before they hit the flames. A bit of smoked Spanish paprika in the marinade also helps to echo and extend the smoke and char from the hot grill.

Because of their small size, sardines make for a quick and easy to prepare finger food option, and when quickly crisped over an open flame, they are also great when paired with a glass of Rioja or a cold beer.

About the author: Marvin Gapultos is the author of the Filipino food blog, Burnt Lumpia. His first cookbook is due out in 2013. When he isn't cooking or writing about Filipino food, Marvin is usually enjoying a beer or cocktail, and thinking about what to eat with said beer or cocktail. You can follow him on Twitter @BurntLumpia.