I devoured an appetizer of Sarde in Saor and Baccala’ Mantecato atop a bed of white polenta during a recent dinner at Vecio Fritolin in Venice. While the baccala’ was exquisite, it was the Sarde in Saor that really made my heart sing…perhaps it’s the onions? I have since had Sarde in Saor on my mind for weeks. So much, in fact, that I decided to give it a go myself on Christmas Eve using this recipe from Saveur.
What is Sarde in Saor, you might be wondering? Sweet and sour sardines prepared with pine nuts, raisins, olive oil, white wine vinegar and oodles of onions. Heck, I don’t even like raisins and religiously pick them out of oatmeal raisin cookies or eat around them any other time they’ve made an appearance on my plate, but Sarde in Saor wouldn’t be Sarde in Saor without them.
My mom indicated that it wasn’t wise to prepare the dish for a group of people since I had never previously attempted it but I figured I had nothing to lose. It was Christmas Eve and would be surrounded by non-judgmental loved ones, about three quarters of whom wouldn’t touch sardines with a ten-foot pole, so my sardines and I were really at the mercy of about six people maximum.
Overall, I’m pleased with how they turned out and quite proud of my first Sarde in Saor attempt! They were better than I had expected. Prior to placing in the fridge for the final marinating step, I had a taste and grew a tad worried because the white vinegar flavor was a little too dominant, even though I had diligently followed the recipe measurements. But when it came time to serve them a few hours later, all of the ingredients married harmoniously and the flavors balanced out evenly….it was the next best thing to being in Venice. Or at Mangiare di Strada in Milan, which also serves a stellar version.
I wish I could say the luscious, velvety accompanying polenta was mine, too, but that was all Aunt Liz. Ah, well. Next time.