Sardines in a sweet-and-sour sauce

Matthew Fort makes Venetian-style sardines, 'sarde in soar': the longer you leave the sardines to marinate, the better
By Matthew Fort
Sardines in a sweet-and-sour sauce
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes plus up to 24 hrs marinating (optional)
  • Effort: easy


For the sardines

  • 75 g plain flour
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • 700 g fresh sardines, gutted, scaled, rinsed and dried with kitchen paper

For the marinade

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 225 g onions, very thinly sliced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 pinches ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinches ground coriander
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 120 ml dry white wine
  • 120 ml white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp raisins, soaked in warm water

Tips and Suggestions

You can replace the sardines with fillets of sole if preferred.


1. For the sardines: sprinkle the flour onto a chopping board, season it with salt and pepper, then coat the sardines lightly in it.

2. Cover the base of a wok or frying pan with vegetable oil and place over a medium heat until the oil is very hot but not smoking (test it by frying a small piece of bread: it should brown in 50 seconds). Add the sardines a few at a time and fry for about 2 minutes on each side, or until a golden-brown crust forms. Transfer the fish to a plate lined with kitchen paper.

3. For the marinade: heat the olive oil and onions in a separate frying pan over a low heat. Add a pinch of salt, the bay leaves, cinnamon, coriander and sugar. Continue frying until the onions are golden brown, stirring all the time.

4. Increase the heat and pour in the wine, vinegar and lemon juice. Boil briskly until the volume of liquid has reduced by half.

5. Spoon the onion sauce over the sardines. Drain the raisins and scatter them on top. This dish can be served immediately, but it is best left for 24 hours to marinate further.

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