Pan-Fried Sardines with Sweet-and-Sour Onions, Pine Nuts, and Raisins

Pan-Fried Sardines with Sweet-and-Sour Onions, Pine Nuts, and Raisins Recipe
Photo: Thomas J. Story; Styling: Karen Shinto
Time: 50 minutes, plus marinating time. Based on a classic Sicilian marinated fried version, this is a great entry-level way to try sardines. The vinegar adds a mouthwatering acidity that balances the oiliness of the fish—and also, in pre-refrigeration days, helped preserve it.


Serves 4 to 6

Recipe from


Nutritional Information

Calories 356
Caloriesfromfat 62 %
Protein 17 g
Fat 24 g
Satfat 3.7 g
Carbohydrate 16 g
Fiber 1.5 g
Sodium 401 mg
Cholesterol 49 mg


2 medium yellow onions
1 cup red-wine vinegar
1/3 cup golden raisins
2 pounds sardines, gutted, heads off*
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup olive oil, divided
About 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley


1. Slice onions into thin half-moons. Combine vinegar and raisins in a measuring cup. Rinse sardines well inside and out, dry with paper towels, and roll in flour, shaking off excess.

2. Heat 3 tbsp. oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Fry sardines in 2 batches, 1 1/2 minutes per side, being careful not to overcook. Transfer to a large shallow serving dish or platter and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt (you can layer the sardines if necessary).

3. Wipe pan clean with paper towels, return to heat, and add remaining oil. When oil is hot, add onions and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring often, until onions are a soft, browned mass, 25 to 30 minutes.

4. Add vinegar and raisins and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Pour over sardines and sprinkle with pine nuts. Let marinate for at least 1 hour at room temperature, covered, or chill for up to 4 days. Sprinkle with parsley to serve.

*Preorder cleaned sardines from your fishmonger.

Make ahead: Up to 3 days, covered and chilled.

Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.