Sweet and sour sardines with onions, pine nuts and raisins

Sweet and sour sardines with onions, pine nuts and raisins

Sarde in saor

By
From
Venice
Serves
8-10
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

Sarde in Saor was mentioned in a few of Carlo Goldoni’s plays, which helped spread its popularity and is traditionally eaten during the Redentore celebration on the third Saturday of July. Almost every bacaro and restaurant serves its own version of the dish, either on polenta or crostini. This is Sabrina Busato’s recipe, a young Venetian girl who learnt it from her grandmother.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1kg sardines
120ml sunflower oil
salt, to taste
1 large white onion, sliced into half moons
1 bay leaf, (optional)
100ml white wine vinegar
100ml white wine
30g sultanas
30g pine nuts

Method

  1. If the sardines have scales, scrape them off using a dinner knife under running water. With a sharp knife remove the heads, from just behind the gills, and tails of the sardines. Using scissors cut down the belly of each fish, open out and remove the guts. Use your fingers and thumbs to push away the spines and discard. Pull out the dorsal fin – this will remove the remnants of the back-bone too. Wash the sardines and dry on kitchen paper.
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and when the oil is hot fry the sardines, in batches if necessary, for about 2–5 minutes on each side, depending on thickness, until just firm to the touch. They should be slightly underdone rather than overcooked. Carefully lift the sardines from the pan keeping them whole and lay in a dish. Leave the remaining oil in the pan. Taste a little piece of one of the sardines and add salt if necessary. If the fish are really fresh they are full of salty seawater so you won’t need to.
  3. In the same pan cook the onion and bay leaf over a gentle heat for around 10 minutes so that the onion softens but does not take on any colour. Pour in the vinegar and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 5 more minutes. Remove the onion from the pan with a pair of tongs and lay on top of the sardines. (If your dish is small or you are doing double this quantity you can layer up the sardines and onions.) Discard the pan juices. Scatter the sultanas and pine nuts over the onions. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for at least 2 days (Sabrina suggests 5 days). The sardines will keep for up to 10 days and are usually served on or with black and white polenta squares. Don’t worry about keeping the fish whole; they will break up as you take a serving.
Tags:
Venice
Giancarlo
Katie
Caldesi
Venetian
Italian
European
Mediterranean
Italy
Europe
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