Jessica Chou / Marinated Sardines with Butter Lettuce + Radish and Chive Butter Toast


Photography is a powerful medium. Sometimes you see an image and it just speaks to you for an inexplicable reason. It pulls you in, it makes you laugh or cry, or helps you recall another time and place. That's probably why photos are the first possession that people choose to take from their home in an emergency, or why we turn to photographs when recalling joyful or sad times.  Regardless of whether it took the photographer 5 minutes or 5 years to capture and convey that moment, this is why photography is so compelling.

A scroll through Jessica Chou's website or instagram account reveals how someone has put that power of the image into action. Whether it's a commercial shoot, the story of a state politician or local sub-culture, or just photographing friends on a road trip, her work indeed commands the attention of those intangible emotions that photographs can bring out of us.  It's no surprise then that her client list includes a broad range of industries and subjects, just a few of which include The New York Times, Roads and Kingdoms, Billboard, Variety, California Sunday Magazine, Airbnb, Dior, L'Oreal Paris, Earth Justice, UNESCO, among many more. 

Among the many funny things Jessica told me since we became friends was that her default go-to 'easy' meal is a butter lettuce and radish salad, which I found completely endearing in its randomness. In an effort to amp up her daily butter lettuce intake, this seemed like the perfect meal to match her equally admirable photography practice. 



Serves 4

For the Sardines


2 tins of nice sardines (Matiz Gallego brand used here)
2 tsp dry oregano
2 tsp chili flakes
2 – 3 garlic cloves, smashed with the side of your knife
olive oil, enough to mostly cover the sardines
1/2 head butter lettuce
*Optional wedges of lemon for serving


  1. In a medium-sized glass container, add ~1/4 c olive oil, the oregano, chili flake and garlic. Use a spoon to gently combine, then add the whole sardines. Add more oil so they are almost covered. Close the container with a lid or plastic wrap, and let marinate for at least an hour or two, ideally overnight in the refrigerator.

  2. When ready to serve, place a few whole leaves of butter lettuce on the plate. Top with a few sardines and a generous dash of the marinating oils and lemon juice.

For the Chive Compound Butter Toast


6 tbsp butter, room temperature
4 - 6 chives, thinly chopped
Nice bread for toasting
8 - 10 radishes, thinly sliced


  1. In a bowl combine the soft butter and sliced chives with a spoon or fork. When well combined, you can transfer it to a smaller bowl/container or leave as is. Cover the bowl/container and place in the refrigerator until cold.

  2. Serve on toasted bread topped with sliced radishes. Recommend letting the bread come slightly to room temperature so the butter doesn't melt too much (unless you prefer that!). Nice to top with chili flake and a light dash of olive oil.

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Learn more about Jessica Chou.