Paola Bacchia’s Sarde in Sa’or: Recipe

Sarde in Sa’or (Venetian-Style Sweet & Sour Sardines) is a classic example of Italian Street food and recipe creator, traveller and cookbook author Paola Bacchia shared her recipe with us to help celebrate the launch of her new book, Italian Street Food.

Sarde in Sa’or recipe

Preparation/raising Time: 10 minutes / Cooking Time: 40 minutes / Serves 4


  • 125ml olive oil
  • 3 medium onions, thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 125ml white wine vinegar
  • 20 sardines, filleted and cleaned
  • plain white flour (for dusting)
  • a few sea salt flakes
  • 2 tbsp (30g) sultanas
  • 2 tbsp (30g) pine nuts
  • small handful parsley leaves, chopped


  1. Heat half of the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a low–medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, peppercorns and bay leaf and cook, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes or until the onion is soft and lightly golden. Add a little water if the onion is browning too quickly.
  3. Add the vinegar and cook for a further 10 minutes, ensuring that the onion remains moist. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  4. Pat dry the sardines with kitchen towel, then dust lightly with flour on both sides.
  5. Heat the remaining olive oil in the same frying pan and cook the sardines over a medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side until golden. Drain on kitchen towel to soak up any excess oil and sprinkle with sea salt flakes.
  6. In a ceramic container, preferably with its own lid, place a layer of cooked onion. Scatter over a few sultanas and pine nuts (and a few more black peppercorns if you like), then add a layer of cooked sardines.
  7. Repeat the layers 3–4 times, finishing with a layer of onion.
  8. Drizzle over a little extra-virgin olive oil if the mixture looks dry and garnish with a few chopped parsley leaves, if desired.
  9. Set aside in the fridge, covered, for at least 1–2 days before serving.


The sardines will keep for up to 1 week and make the perfect snack to keep in the fridge.



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