Patina de Pisciculis

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


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This recipe for a fish dish is based on the ancient Roman one by Apicius. The original version does not specify which type of fish was used. Here we have chosen small sprats, but you could also use small pieces of salmon, or small herring, sardines, or anchovies. It is actually unlikely that herring or salmon would have been available in Rome. Also, the original recipe called for twice as much oil as this version.


  • 400 g (a little less than 1 lb) small fresh sprats (about 20 fish)
  • salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • all-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 1 dL ( c) olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 150 g ( oz) raisins
  • 2 sprigs fresh lovage
  • 1 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves
  • ½ dL ( c) garum or fish sauce


  1. Season the fish with the salt and the pepper and coat with the flour.
  2. Panfry the fish in the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove and keep them warm.
  3. Add the onions to the oil and cook until they are translucent.
  4. Add the raisins, lovage, oregano, and garum or fish sauce to the onions and season to taste.
  5. Pour the oil mixture over the warm fish just before serving.