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"Sardee in saor" is an ancient and tasty dish, and in spite of its simplicity it has some of the main peculiarities of the Venetian cuisine. First of all, this is a salty and very tasty dish: although the Venetian cuisine includes very famous cakes, like "fritoe", just to name the most famous one, we can claim that the best-known dishes of the Venetian tradition are salty and characterised by a strong taste.

The name itself "sardee in saor" tells us that this is a very tasty dish ("saor" is the Venetian term for "taste", and paraphrasing the name of the dish we could call it "sardines immersed in flavour"), and indeed the basic ingredient of this dish, besides fish, is onion, which is used to prepare the seasoning (i.e. the "saor") of the sardines. It is for the use of this ingredient that "sardee in saor" best represents the Venetian cuisine, which uses great deals of onions in many typical dishes, like the "figĂ  alla venessiana" (Venetian liver), and the "bigoli in salsa" (thick spaghetti with sardines and onion sauce).

The reason why onion is much used in the Venetian cuisine is very easy to explain: onion has the capacity of neutralizing the bacteria that causes food deterioration, and for this reason it has always played an important role in preserving food.

In Venice, a city of sailors, who might remain at sea for long periods, thus needing to preserve food, onion was notably useful. Last but not least, "sardee in saor" is a fish dish, and for this reason it represents the maritime culture and the fishing tradition of the lagoon city.

Since it is a typical dish, "sardee in saor" can be found in all the restaurants of the city, but as it is also very easy to cook, and you do not need many ingredients to prepare it, you can cook it also in your own kitchen.

First of all, you need to know that the preparation of the dish is quite fast, but it should not be eaten immediately: you need to wait few days, thus if you would like to cook "sardee in saor" for a special occasion, get yourself organised in advance.

Here are the ingredients that you need to cook "sardee in saor": 500 g fresh sardines (not too big), 500 g white onions, 1 glass vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sugar, white flour type 00, olive oil. Start by cleaning the fish: cut the head off, remove the insides, but not the bone, scale and rinse it, then dip each sardine in flour and fry them in oil, and be careful that you fry them on both sides. Take the sardines out from the oil and lay them on some blotting paper. Add salt. Cut the onion and make it brown in oil, and add the vinegar and some water little by little. When they are almost done, you can add a teaspoon of sugar to give a sweet-and-sour taste.

If you like it you can add also some raisins and pine nuts, which softens the strong taste of onions (in the past these ingredients were used only in winter to increase the calories in the dish). Now you can take a glass or ceramic platter, lay a layer of sardines, then one of "saor" and so on until the ingredients are over (the last layer must be made of onions). Now the dish is ready, but to taste it you need to let it rest in the fridge for at least 24 hours, but it would be better to wait 5 days. But it is definitely worth waiting for!

This article was written by Francesca Tessarollo, with support from venice canal.
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