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Savoury Pilchards or Sardines Preserved in Vinegar and Onion (Sardee in Saór)

Contributor: Lucia Fanton

Savoury Pilchards or Sardines Preserved in Vinegar and Onion


This food tells of the seafaring life in the Adriatic Sea at the times of sailing ships. Evidences of a similar preparation for sardines can still be found in Turkey today.

Between the marinating practices directed to preserve foods in long sea voyages, the Sardee in Saór is very appetizing and ready to use. This preparation can preserve the palatability of the sardines for about a month, when stored fresh in ambient temperature, reaching the best flavor after about 15 days.

This classic Venetian dish can be done with both opened pilchards, without the fish bones, and with closed pilchards, well cleaned from head and bowels. In both cases, they must be thoroughly washed to remove all of the fish scales.


fresh pilchards
abundant white onion
frying oil
00 wheat flour
Optional: pine-seeds and raisins


Flour the pilchards with the 00 wheat flour adding a little salt to the powder.
Fry the pilchards and dry with blotting paper. With oil in a wide frying pan, wilt the sliced onions, adding slowly and from time to time, water and a little vinegar.

When the onions are softened, but before they cream down, add the rest of the vinegar, and eventually add the pine-seeds and raisins. Evaporate the excess liquid.

Using the onions, make a bed at the bottom of a large and deep container and place the fried pilchard side by side in it. Proceed by alternating layers of sardines and onions. Cover the last layer with the onions.

Drop over the dish any eventual remaining sauce. Cover the dish and let it flavour develop completely for at less two days. The flavour comes out best after a week and up to one month. Serve the Sardee in Saór at room temperature, at least two days after, with warm and thick yellow maize porridge. It can also be prepare with exquisite shrimps, or sfogi (soles), or pasarini (plaices), being aware to use only small sized fishes.

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