Sarde in saor, the dish for the Redentor

sarde in saor|cantinadospade

An extremely simple fish course, eaten in great quantities throughout the year. A symbol of Venice and of its long-standing tradition of preserving food, so deeply rooted in the culture and lifestyle of this city and of the Veneto region in general, that it could stand for Veneto itself.

This dish can be seen on the boats of all Venetians on the Redentore celebration, bringing together whole families from the common people, the upper classes, friends and, today, many tourists and foresti (“foreigners”).

First of all, saor, in Venetian, means “flavour”. Sardines, onions and vinegar: these are the masterfully matched ingredients, following a 2:1 ratio, that is 2 kilos onions for each kilo sardines.

Making a virtue of necessity

The sardines, a meagre fish, must be deep-fried, whereas the onions must be first stewed, then lightly fried and, finally, be added some vinegar and be reduced. This mixture doesn’t simply flavour the sardines, but preserves them, as well. But be careful: they need to stand at least a couple of days, in order to be flavoured enough.

The ingredients are few and simple, their quality, though, is absolutely essential to a good final outcome: sardines must be utterly fresh and onions must be Chioggia’s white ones.

The dish must be eaten cold and goes perfectly with white polenta slices.

The recipe of sarde in saor

Ingredients (for 4 persons):

  • 700 g fresh sardines
  • 1,4 Kg white onions
  • soft wheat flour, as much as needed
  • peanut oil, as much as needed
  • extra-virgin olive oil, as much as needed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 spoonful of sugar
  • half a glass of wine
  • 2 spoonfuls of raisins (optional)
  • 1 spoonful of pine nuts (optional)