Sweet and sour sardines
Preparing food in saor – the technique of marinating fried food in vinegar and other ingredients – was a favourite Venetian way of conserving food for long trips
- Serves: 4 persons
- 12sardines, cleaned, heads and backbones removed, butterflied
- 5 ½tbsp plain flour
- vegetable oil, for frying
- 40g raisins
- 4tbsp white wine
- 1large white onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 125ml white wine vinegar
- a pinch ground cloves (optional)
- 1tsp crushed coriander seeds (optional)
- 5 ½tbsp pine nuts
Step 1Dust the sardines in the flour and shallow-fry in oil over a medium-high heat for 1 minute on each side until golden and crisp. Season with salt and set aside on some kitchen paper to drain.
Step 2Soak the raisins in the white wine for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, gently cook the onions in a frying pan with the olive oil over a low heat for 10 minutes until soft and transparent, then add the vinegar, the wine from the raisins (set the raisins aside), some freshly ground pepper and the spices, if using. Simmer gently for 10 minutes then remove from the heat. Taste the mixture – if it is too sharp, stir in a pinch of sugar.
Step 3Put a layer of sardines in a dish, top them with some of the onion, raisins and pine nuts, and continue layering until the sardines are used up, then top with a layer of onions, raisins and pine nuts, and finish with the rest of the vinegar sauce poured over the top. Cover and marinate for at least 24 hours in the fridge before serving. It will keep in the fridge for up to one week.
Step 4Eat at room temperature, removing from the fridge an hour before you want to enjoy them. Serve the sardines on slices of toasted or fresh baguette, or grilled polenta.