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Traditional Italian recipes: Venetian sardines in saor

The sardines in saor they are «the most loved dish by the Venetians». Because it means boat trips, eating with friends, the night of the Redeemer (the third Sunday of July, ed), the historic and most loved restaurants in Venice and all the thousands of opportunities we find to spend time together». So they tell the historian Cantina Do Spade – bacaro and restaurant since 1448, a stone’s throw from the Rialto – famous for its cicchetti and for the best traditional local cuisine, dal creamed cod with polenta to the Venetian liver.

Sardines in saor including, of course. The dish comes from maritime tradition: Bepo Maffioli defined it as «food for sailors and mainland supplies». A very simple fish dish, so rooted in the culture and life of Venetians and Veneto people in general, that it is the Veneto itself. first of all, Saor in Venetian dialect it is “taste”. Sardines, onions and vinegar, these are the masterfully combined ingredients. The sardines – a poor fish, fried in plenty of oil – and the onions, first stewed, then dipped in oil and blended with vinegar, to create a mixture which not only adds flavour, but preserves.

And if the preparation does not rest at least a couple of days not seasoned enough. Then there are some small and refined variations on the theme: soaked raisins and/or pine nuts to add to the mixture of onions and vinegar, or White wine to replace all or part of the vinegar to make the dish more delicate, less aggressive. The ingredients are few, simple, but their quality is essential for the success of the dish: the sardines must be very fresh and local onions, because saor is made with one Chioggia white onion produced in the Venice area. The plate it should be enjoyed cold and it is excellent accompanied by slices of white polenta». Any other advice, to prepare and make the most of the recipe? «Don’t cut the onion too finely, to avoid losing its texture. Since it is a appetizers with a strong flavor, we recommend continuing the dinner with a first course with the same “character”, such as i Bigoli in Salsa. When with wine: we match a Sauvignon or one Istrian Malvasia».

Sarde in saor, the original recipe
Pilar Montolio

Ingredients for 6 people: 1 kg of sardines, 1.5 kg of white onions, 25 g of raisins, 25 g of pine nuts, ½ glass of seed oil, ⅓ glass of white wine vinegar, 2 sprigs of bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste

Preparation (120 minutes):

  1. Cut the onion into fairly coarse julienne strips and place it in a saucepan, add pine nuts, raisins and bay leaf, salt and pepper, add seed oil and vinegar.
  2. Cook over very low heat, taking care to cover the saucepan with a lid. Remember to stir frequently enough for the onion to cook evenly. When the onion has taken on a golden and translucent color, turn off the heat and let it cool down.
  3. Now it’s time to move on to sardines. Clean the sardines by removing the head and entrails. Flour them and fry them in seed oil. After having fried them, dry them and salt them moderately.
  4. Sardines and saor must be assembled cold. In this way the sardines will not continue to cook and the fish meat will not fall apart and will remain compact. The assembly of the dish must be done in layers making sure that the first and last layer is the saor.

Do not consume the dish immediately, sardines in saor are delicious immediately but are perfect from the second day onwards!

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Source: Vanity Fair

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