Sarde in Saor

Sweet-and-Sour Fried Sardines


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

Sardines served this way make a traditional Venetian dish, and although the ingredients sound quite unusual, the final combination is delicious. You will find this on sale all over Venice, as it is extremely popular with the locals and there are lots of variations on the basic theme. Ideally, you should leave the dish to rest in the refrigerator for about 48 hours before eating it. Most important, however, is that the sardines are fat and meaty, and as fresh as possible.


  • 100 g/ oz sultanas/golden raisins
  • 675 g/ lb fresh sardines, cleaned and heads removed
  • about 60 ml/4 tbsp plain/all-purpose flour
  • 1 litre/ pints/4 cups sunflower oil, for deep-frying
  • 675g/ lb white onions, thinly sliced
  • 30 ml/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 115 g/4 oz/¾ cup pine nuts
  • sea salt and ground black pepper


  1. Soak the sultanas in warm water to cover for 20 minutes, or until plump. Meanwhile, wash and dry the sardines, then toss them in flour to coat them all over.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan to 180°C/350°F, or until a small cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 40 seconds. Fry the sardines until golden brown on both sides, then lift out and drain thoroughly on kitchen paper. Leave to cool.

  3. Carefully transfer 15 ml/1 tbsp of the oil to a separate pan, and fry the onions until just golden. Add the vinegar. Cook for 3 minutes more. Season and remove from the heat. Drain the sultanas.

  4. Arrange the ingredients in layers in a serving dish as follows: a layer of fish, then onions, then sultanas and pine nuts, and so on, until all the ingredients have been used. Leave to chill for 24-48 hours before serving.