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.
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
How to Make It
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.
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).
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.
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.