Sarde Incinte in Agrodolce
Fresh sardines! Not only are they packed with omega-3 fats, selenium, vitamin B12, calcium, niacin and phosphorus, but they are some of the most sustainable fish out there. Even more so now that we live near the waters where they swim.
During my first years of tasting fish I never thought that I would love a sardine. I remember my host father in Marconia trying to push one on me and turning my nose up at it saying it was too little, I thought that the smaller they were the fishier they would taste and didn’t know how to work around the bones.
I have shied away from cooking anchovies and sardines in the past because I didn’t know how to clean them and was too squeamish to learn. I did finally learn and I was really excited when I brought these home, though I was unsure of what I wanted to do with them. I had made a beccafico a few weeks before and wanted to explore different recipes from regions that are limited in my repertoire. I found this Venetian gem in my Slow Food cookbook and had to try it.
The ingredients are similar to those used in a beccafico, but the process is very different. I was perplexed by the pasty filling which made me think of a haroseth, and wasn’t sure how it would taste with the marinated fish, but knew that I had hit the jackpot when my husband claimed that this was the best thing I had ever prepared. We will be trying this again, but after I find the European equivalent of a Cuisinart.
Sarde Incinte in Agrodolce
adapted and translated from Ricette di Osterie d’Italia: il pesce. 600 piatti di mare di lago e di fiume Slow Food Editor
- 16 sardines (or more, I had 18 and there was plenty of filling left, just make sure it is an even number of fish)
- a small clove of garlic
- 50 grams (1.75 oz) parsley
- 100 grams (3.5 oz) raisins
- 80 grams (2.8 oz) pine nuts
- 15-20 grams (0.5-0.75 oz) breadcrumbs
- the juice of 1 orange
- the juice of 1 lemon
- white wine vinegar
- extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Clean the sardines, remove the spines and open them up like a book. Place them in a ceramic baking dish and cover them in the vinegar, marinate for 5 minutes.
Soak the raisins in the orange juice for 30 minutes. Squeeze out any excess juice and place in a food processor or blender with the garlic clove, the parsley, the pine nuts, the breadcrumbs, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and process until it becomes a consistent paste. It the paste seems too runny, add a some more breadcrumbs.
Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F).
Place an open sardine in a ceramic baking dish, spread a little of the paste in the center and cover it up with another sardine. Continue until you have used up all of the sardines. Drizzle olive oil and pour the juice of the lemon on top of the sardines. Place in the oven for about 5 minutes, or until the fish is opaque. Serve immediately.
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