Savoury Pilchards or Sardines Preserved in Vinegar and Onion (Sardè in Saòr)

Contributor: Lucia Fanton


This Venetian food tells the story of seafaring life in the Adriatic Sea at the time of the sailing ships. Evidence of similar preparation for sardines can still be found in Turkey today.

Among the marinating practices used to preserve food on long sea voyages, Sardee in Saór is nice and ready to use. This preparation can preserve the goodness of the sardines for about a month, if kept fresh at room temperature, reaching the peak of flavour after about 15 days.

This classic Venetian dish can be made either with open sardines, with the bones removed, or with closed sardines, well cleaned of head and entrails. In both cases, they must be washed thoroughly to remove all the scales.

Ingredients of Sardè in Saòr

Fresh sardines
plenty of white onion
frying oil
wheat flour 00
Optional: pine nuts and sultanas

Preparation of Sardè in Saòr

Flour the sardines with the wheat flour 00 adding a little salt to the powder.

Fry the sardines and dry them with paper towels. Pour the oil into a large frying pan and fry the sliced onions, slowly adding water and a little vinegar from time to time.

When the onions have softened, but before they skim, add the rest of the vinegar, and if necessary add the pine nuts and sultanas. Allow the excess liquid to evaporate.

Using the onions, make a bed in the bottom of a wide, deep bowl and lay the fried sardines side by side. Proceed by alternating layers of sardines and onions. Cover the last layer with the onions.

Use any remaining sauce. Cover the dish and let it season completely for less than two days. The flavour will intensify after a week and up to a month. Serve Sardee in Saór at room temperature, at least two days later, with a hot polenta. It can also be prepared with delicious shrimps, or sfogi (sole), or pasarini (plaice), remembering to use only small fish.