Butchery and Ethnographic Info:
This recipe was adapted from a dish made by a “friend of a friend” in grad school. I believe its origins are Turkish, but it has gone through several “filters” before reaching its present incarnation. The sardines used here should be fresh with the head and entrails removed. Small smelt can also be used if sardines are unavailable.
Set water to boil for spaghetti. Remove head and entrails from fish. Rinse and pat dry inside and out. Dredge fish in flour and fry in a large frying pan with just a little olive oil. Fry four or less fish at a time so as not to crowd the pan. When they are golden brown remove to a platter lined with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper while they are still extremely hot. Cook spaghetti while you are frying fish. Pasta should be al dente. When you are done frying the fish, add the pepper and garlic and sunflower seeds directly to the fish pan. (Either add or drain the oil according to how much is left in the pan after frying the fish.) Sautй peppers very briefly so they are still crisp. Drain pasta, and add to the pan with the peppers. Toss gently to combine. Add the lemon juice and a little salt and pepper. Serve with a dry white wine (very cold).