Cooking exercise – Venice

When you travel to Italy you discover that each city, town or village as well each region have its own cooking tradition. Along the coastline, many recipes will be based on fish,  in the countryside meat and vegetable play the main role and anywhere you find great cheese, salami, hams, breads, vegetables and several interpretation of country-wise recipes.
Venice is no exception to the rule. The city has its own traditional food, products and recipes that won’t taste the same in other areas of the Country. Being its relation with the sea so tight, most of the Venetian culinary art is based on fisheries, therefore my food exercise for you this time will be based on fish.  Not any fish, but one of those little blue fishes of the Adriatic sea that contributed to have the  Mediterranean diet included in the UNESCO intangible world heritage for its health keeping values and the variety of it ingredients which has no comparison in other areas of the planet. This recipe is similar to others that are pretty common in the North of Italy, for example the “Carpione” in Piedmont. All such recipes make use of vinegar for both enhancing the flavour of the fish and to preserve it for a while. Due to its intensive trade with the middle east, in Venice it is common to add ingredients that are more usually find in the eastern culinary tradition, such as raisins and pine nuts. So let’s enjoy this Venetian recipes and have a nice food exercise.

Sardines – Photo courtesy of calendariodelciboitaliano

Sarde in Saor – “Savory Sardines” As I wrote in several articles, the proportion of the ingredients may vary and are subject to your personal taste. The recipe here below is provided by my very good friend Daniela Amandola, who although was born in Piedmont, is married to a native Venetian and developed a passion for the Venetian food. Saor or savòr is the name of this condiment that was used since ancient times, as early as 1300 by Venetian fishermen, in order to preserve lagoon fish for as long as possible, in the absence of refrigeration, onions and vinegar allowed to keep the fish edible for several days.


  • 700 gr. of very fresh sardines
  • 1.5 kg of white onions
  • Wheat flour, as much as needed
  • Peanut oil, as much as needed
  • Extra virgin olive oil, as much as needed
  • Salt, black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • Half a glass of white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon of raisins 1 tablespoon of pine nuts


Clean the sardines by removing the heads and the entrails and wash them well with running cold water. Dry and then cover with wheat flour and sift them to remove any excess of flour.
Fry the sardines in abundant peanut oil. When the sardines are well browned on both sides lay them on absorbent paper.
Now it’s time to prepare the “Saor”. Peel the onions and cut them into very thin slices and fry them in olive oil, As soon as they turn into a golden color add salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar and let it evaporate. Onve the vinegar is evaporated remove the frying pan from the fire. Soak the raisins and the pine nuts in warm water to re hydrate them and let them rest for few minutes. Then squeeze them to remove the excess of water. Take a bowl or a tray and make several layers in it by alternating the fried sardines and the Saor and spread raisins and pine nuts above each layer. Do not serve it immediately: this food must rest for a while at room temperature (or in the fridge if you are in a rush). Serve it cold. Best in summer time. Let me know the results of your experimentation and enjoy cooking.

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