Venetian Cuisine: Sarde in saor

Venetian Cuisine: Sarde in saor

“Sarde in saor” (sweet and sour sardines), a named enshrined in the local dialect, are a feature of Venetian cuisine that simply has to be tried

“Saor” began as a means of preservation: onions browned in vinegar were used in previous centuries to preserve fish from the inevitable deterioration after cooking. This eventually led to the creation of sarde in saor. If your fridge breaks down, however, I would advise against preserving all your food under a huge pile of onions cooked in vinegar! The recipe for sarde in saor is fairly simple, although perhaps a little time-consuming and laborious. However, I would recommend preparing an industrial-size quantity just once, so it is always available whenever you feel like enjoying an instant home-made snack. THE SAOR Start by preparing the “saor”:  finely chop 800 g of yellow onions and place them in a saucepan on a low heat with a little extra-virgin olive oil, letting them fry lightly in 400 cc of white wine vinegar, salt and pepper. When half-cooked, add a few bay leaves, 80 g of toasted pine nuts and a similar quantity of raisins. Once the saor is ready, place it to one side. THE SARDINES Then take 1.5kg of sardines. Place a large pan of peanut oil on the stove to heat and then remove the innards and dip the sardines in flour. Fry all the sardines and place a layer of them at the bottom of a bowl or dish. Cover them with a layer of saor, followed by more sardines, alternating the layers until no more are left. Then comes the most difficult part: to enjoy the sarde in saor at their best, they should be left in the refrigerator for at least a week, to allow the sardines to marinate properly, which is practically impossible, given the extraordinary seductive power of that bowl of sardines. VEGETABLES IN SAOR ”Everything tastes good when fried”, as they say, so imagine if it is also prepared in saor! The local restaurateurs have served practically everything “in saor” over the years: pumpkin, chicory, courgettes, aubergines, etc., and who can blame them, as fried food and saor are an irresistible combination. Recipe and text by David Marchiori, manager of the Osteria Palaplip in Mestre and creator of the “Incoscienzaatavola” Blog

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