Sardine Ripiene

Stuffed Sardines


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

This delicious Tuscan recipe for fresh sardines or plump, overgrown anchovies could not be simpler and relies very much on the fish being freshly caught. Like many recipes from this region, the ingredients are quite generous and call for about 10 fish per person, although you may prefer to reduce the quantities slightly. Once the fish have been filleted, any that have been damaged in the process are added to the bread filling. To remove the scales without them flying all over the kitchen, local cooks use a piece of newspaper - or yellow kitchen paper as found locally - soaked in water, to rub vigorously over the fish. They can be served just as they are, with a wedge of lemon, or with a basic tomato sauce flavoured with a pinch of ground fennel seeds.


  • 2-3 stale crusty white bread rolls, crusts removed
  • about 120 ml/4 fl oz/½ cup milk
  • 40 fresh sardines or large anchovies, scaled and filleted
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 45 ml/3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • about 90 ml/6 tbsp plain/all-purpose flour
  • about 2 litres/ pints/9 cups sunflower oil, for deep-frying
  • sea salt


  1. Soak the bread in the milk to cover, then squeeze dry. Use any damaged fish fillets for the filling. Put all the perfectly shaped fillets to one side.

  2. Mix the bread with the damaged fish, half the beaten eggs, the grated Parmesan cheese, garlic, parsley, chilli and a pinch of salt. Blend it all together to make a firm paste with your hands or a fork.

  3. Sandwich two fillets together with a generous spoonful of the filling in the middle, then gently coat in the remaining beaten egg and then the flour. Repeat for the remaining fillets.

  4. Heat the oil in large pan until sizzling, then fry the fish, in batches, until crisp and golden brown; about 2 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper and serve.