The saor is an tasty cooking method that was used by Venetian sailors to preserve food when out at sea… let’s cook with Sonia the sarde in saor (sweet and sour sardines)!
Today at the fish market I found these beautiful fresh sardines and decided to make a traditional Venetian dish, the sarde in saor… let’s cook it together!
Ingredients for 6 servings:
Sweet and sour sardines
• 1 1/3 lbs (600 g) of sardines, cleaned and butterflied
• less than 1 cup (200 ml) of white wine vinegar
• 1 tbsp of sugar
• 1 1/3 lbs (600 g) of white onions
• 2 bay leaves • ¼ cup (40 g) of raisins
• ¼ cup (40 g) of pine nuts
• 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
• salt, pink peppercorns and flour, as needed
• peanut oil, as needed
Firstly peel the onions, cut in half and place in a bowl of cold water; let them sit for at least half an hour.
And now move on to the sardines: as you can see, they can be purchased already cleaned, opened up with the two halves still attached. If your sardines are not cleaned, first cut off the head, use your hands of course… remove the head and the entrails, as you can see; then run your thumb along the backbone and loosen the flesh from the bone… remove any remaining guts, and do the same on the other side, still with your thumb, since the flesh sticks to the bone more stubbornly than anchovies. Pull out the backbone, after that the sardine is deboned and butterflied. Continue in this way until all the sardines are cleaned.
Now we’ll flour and fry the sardines: take the sardines, pat them dry… roll in flour and fry in vegetable oil. Once fried, add salt; then let them drain and cool on kitchen paper.
After half an hour, remove the onions from the water, pat them dry and cut into thin slices.
That’s it. Heat the olive oil in a pan until hot but not smoking; add the onions… and sauté on a very low flame for at least 20-30 minutes, until soft; they should turn transparent, not brown.
Here we are, the onions have softened, so raise the heat… pour in the vinegar… add the sugar… and salt… and cook until the vinegar has completely evaporated.
The onions are ready, turn off the heat and collect the ingredients for assembling: the raisins, that have been soaked and softened… the pine nuts… the pink peppercorns, and the bay leaves. Now take a small oven dish, and line the bottom with the sardines — we’ll arrange everything in layers — a few onions… raisins and pine nuts… then start again with the sardines. The saor is an ancient cooking method used by sailors to preserve food when out at sea, but it was so good that it’s cooked even today, not only in Venice. Add some raisins… pine nuts… and move on to the last layer. Here we are, for the top layer, add the remaining onions… along with the cooking sauce… that greatly improves the flavour… and finish by adding not only the raisins and the pine nuts, but also the pink peppercorns and the bay leaves.
Once finished, one key ingredient is still missing: patience. You need to let the sardines rest in the fridge for at least 24 hours, or up to 4-5 days, covered with cling film. After that, you’ll be able to taste the true sarde in saor… see you next video recipe!