Sardines “in saor”

The dish that Venetians love the most? Sardines “in saor”, as they mean boat rides, meals with friends, the Redeemer night and all other occasions we find to spend time together.
Preparazione: 120 min
Dosi per: 6 persone


Sardines, 1 kg
White onions, 1,5 kg
Raisins, 25 g
Pine nuts, 25 g
Seed oil, ½ glass
White wine vinegar, ⅓ glass
Bay leaves, 2 sprigs
Salt, q.s.
Pepper, q.s.


  • Cut the onion in julienne strips and place them in a saucepan. Add the pine nuts, the raisins and the bay leaves. Add salt and pepper, seed oil and vinegar.
  • Cook over low heat, covering the saucepan with a lid. Mix frequently for a uniform cooking. When the onions get brown and translucent, put out the fire and leave to cool.
  • Now let’s move to the sardines. Clean the sardines, cutting away their heads and removing the entrails. Flour them and fry them in seed oil. After this, drain them and salt them mildly.
  • Sardines and "saor" sauce have to be put together when they cool. This way, sardines won’t continue to cook and they will remain firm. They have to be assembled in layers, paying attention to use onions for both the first and last layer.

Don’t eat this recipe right away: sardines in saor are delicious just cooked, but they are perfect from the second day onwards!


This dish is always present during the Redeemer Festival. Its history dates back to maritime tradition:

“Food for sailors and stock for the mainland”, as Bepo Maffioli defined it.

Very simple fish dish, so ingrained in Venice and Veneto region’s culture and life, that it is an emblem of Veneto itself. First of all, “saor” means “taste” in Venetian dialect. Sardines, onions and vinegar,  these are the ingredients needed for this delicious recipe, combined according to the following proportions: 2:1, which means 2 kg of onions for each kilo of sardines. The sardines, a poor fish, fried in abundant oil, and the onions, first braised and then dressed with oil and blended with vinegar, to create a mixture that both flavors and preserves the dish. If this preparation doesn’t rest for at least a couple days, it doesn’t absorb enough flavour. You could also find some little refined variations on the theme: soaked raisins or pine nuts added to the mixture of onions and vinegar or the white wine used instead of vinegar, to prepare a more delicate dish. The ingredients are few and simple, but their quality is essential for the success of the recipe: freshest sardines and local onions, as “saor” is prepared with a white onion from Chioggia, produced in the area of Venice. The dish has to be enjoyed cold. It is great paired with some slices of white polenta.