Sardine Siciliane agrodolce

Sardine Siciliane agrodolce

Sweet and sour sardines

My Italian Kitchen
Chris Middleton

When I’m browsing at the fish markets, sardines are one of the fish varieties that jump out at me instantly. They are so delicate yet so flavoursome. The recipe options are endless with these little fish, whether fried, grilled or baked … Sardine agrodolce is a very traditional Sicilian dish, a dish I fondly remember my mother making.


Quantity Ingredient
60ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 brown onions, finely diced
40g pine nuts
500g fresh sardines, cleaned
plain flour, for dusting
balsamic vinegar
1 handful fresh mint, roughly chopped


  1. To prepare the sweet and sour onions, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over a low heat and add the onions. Cook until the onions are tender and caramelised, about 15 minutes.
  2. At the same time, in a separate frying pan, gently toast the pine nuts over a low–medium heat for about 3 minutes, turning the nuts to achieve a good even colour.
  3. To prepare the fish, remove the head and backbone from each sardine, leaving the fish butterflied with the tail intact. Alternatively, purchase butterflied sardines from your local fishmonger.
  4. Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan and dust the sardines with a little flour.
  5. Gently cook the sardines in the frying pan over a medium–high heat for about 1 minute on each side, then lightly season.
  6. Lay the sardines on a plate and cover with the caramelised onion.
  7. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and some chopped mint. Top with the pine nuts.
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