Sweet and sour sardines

Sweet and sour sardines

Sardine alla scapece

Sharing Puglia
Alicia Taylor

This tasty marinated fish has Middle Eastern roots and is similar to the more familiar escabeche. This ancient way of preserving food, using vinegar and breadcrumbs, is not only clever, but also practical. Once the fish is layered in a container, it will last in the refrigerator for months. You can make this using any small fish such as sardines or whitebait. It makes a great appetiser accompanied by a glass of rosato from San Severo.


Quantity Ingredient
500ml white wine vinegar
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
pinch saffron threads
500g sardines or whitebait
100g plain flour
60ml olive oil, for frying
250g day-old sourdough bread


  1. Place the vinegar, garlic, turmeric and saffron in a saucepan over medium heat and boil for 2–3 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl to cool completely.
  2. Wash and then pat the fish dry with paper towel. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Place the flour in a shallow dish and dredge the fish.
  4. In a large frying pan, over medium heat, fry the fish in the olive oil on both sides until the fish is golden and crispy. Transfer to paper towel to drain.
  5. In a food processor, make coarse breadcrumbs from the sourdough bread. Tip the breadcrumbs into the cooled vinegar mixture and stir to combine well.
  6. Place a layer of the breadcrumb mixture in a shallow rectangular ceramic dish and place a layer of the fish on top of that. Continue layering the fish, alternating with the breadcrumb mixture, until finished, making sure the last layer of fish is completely covered with the breadcrumb mixture. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 day before eating.
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