- 2-inch fresh horseradish root, peeled
- 1 cup crème fraîche
- 1 lemon
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 medium sardines, each about 8 inches long. (If you can’t find fresh sardines, you can substitute another small, oily fish such as herring.)
- 2 russet potatoes, each about 5 inches long
- 6 to 8 cups vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 lemon, halved
- Minced fresh chives or baby mustard greens, for garnish
Horseradish Crème Fraîche
In a medium bowl, grate the horseradish into the crème fraîche, using a Microplane grater. Zest and juice the lemon and add to the bowl. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
Note: If you’re not up to gutting and filleting the sardines, ask your fishmonger to do it for you.
Remove the scales and gut the sardines, leaving the heads on. To fillet the fish, place a gutted sardine on a cutting board on its side. Run a sharp knife inside the fish to expose the spine from neck to tail. Flip the fish over, belly-side down, and splay it flat on the cutting board. Using your fingers, gently but firmly press down along the spine, pressing it against the board. You want to press just hard enough for the flesh to separate from the spine. Flip the fish belly side up. Hold the tail (you may need to use a knife to loosen the spine from the flesh on this end) and gently tease the whole spine from the flesh, tail to head. Use kitchen scissors to cut through the bone as close to the head as possible. Using a sharp knife, remove the head. Remove the pin bones, if desired. Repeat with the remaining sardines.
Slice each fillet in half along the spine, and then in half again horizontally. You should have 24 fillets, each about 3 inches long.
Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise. Use a paring knife to slice 2 evenly spaced horizontal incisions, about ½ inch long and 1 inch apart, deep into the face of the center of the potatoes. Be careful not to slice all the way to the edges of the potatoes. These will form the pocket through which the fish will be threaded.
Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, slice the potatoes, cut side down, into 24 chips, ⅛ inch thick. The chips should be slightly thicker than an average potato chip. If they’re too thin, they will crumble and burn when fried; if they’re too thick, the sardines will overcook before the chips are crisp.
Carefully thread a sardine fillet through the slits in each potato slice. Lay the chips flat on a clean baking sheet.
In a Dutch oven or other large, heavy pot, pour the oil to a depth of about 2 inches. Place the pot over medium-high heat and heat the oil to 350°F .
In batches of 4 to 6, fry the chips until golden brown and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate and season with salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Repeat with the remaining chips, bringing the oil back to 350°F before frying each batch.
Garnish the horseradish sauce with the chives. Serve the chips immediately, with the sauce for dipping.
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