Sarde in Saor
Chef Adam Vettorel, North & Navy

20 sardines
1 tbsp oil
3 large onions
3 fennel bulbs (pick and save fronds)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup golden raisins
White wine
White wine vinegar
Baguette (optional) 

Debone sardines and sprinkle them with salt. In a hot frying pan, add oil and sear sardines flesh side down for about 5-8 seconds. Place sardines in a dish with deep sides flesh side down and set aside.

In the same pan, on medium-low heat, add the onions and fennel to the residual oil left from the sardines. Sweat the onions and fennel, making sure they stay a clear colour and do not caramelize. (Use water, if necessary, to slow things down if it gets too hot). Add toasted pine nuts and raisins. Cover with white wine and let reduce until vegetables are soft. At this point, the dish should have a sour taste. If too sweet, add some white wine vinegar. 

Season with salt, but only lightly because the sardines should already be salty. Cover sardines with onion and fennel mixture and let cool.


On a plate, cover sardines with onion and fennel mixture. Alternatively, you can also serve this cicchetti dish on thin slices of baguette.


Adam Vettorel is the chef and co-owner of Ottawa’s North & Navy. Previously he was the chef du cuisine at the iconic Domus Cafe. He has been cooking in Ottawa for fifteen years. His interest in Northern Italian food comes from his father’s side of the family, who hail from Veneto. 


Bite is a biweekly feature on, and is inspired by the Venetian tradition of serving cicchetti—small dishes to snack on with wine—at local bàcari