Marinated Sardines Recipe

Marinated Sardines

Sardinas en Escabeche, a very popular recipe from Spain, which is often used for tapas or as an appetizer.

Escabeche is an age-old technique to preserve food. Fish, mussels, poultry or game are poached or fried in olive oil and then marinated for at least 24 hours in garlic, herbs, and vinegar and served at room temperature. If you use a good quality wine vinegar the delicate flavor of the fish or meat will not be overpowered by the acidity of the marinade.

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes preparation plus 1-2 days for marinating


  • 1 lb (450 g) fresh small sardines, cleaned, filleted and gently flattened (you should end up with 1 fillet per sardine)
  • salt
  • flour for dusting
  • 8 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) good quality red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) fish broth or clam juice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a pinch of thyme
  • 3 peppercorns
  • lemon slices or 1 bay leaf for garnish


Sprinkle sardine fillets with salt and dust them with flour. Shake off the excess flour. In a skillet heat 4 tablespoon olive oil and sauté sardines until they are golden brown on both sides. In case you need to sauté them in several batches add more olive oil if necessary. Set aside.

Heat remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil in the skillet and sauté garlic slices until they are golden. Do not let them get brown. Stir in the vinegar, wine, fish broth and add bay leaves, a pinch of thyme, peppercorns, and salt. Boil for a few minutes to reduce the liquid and blend in the vinegar and wine taste.

Arrange sardines in an earthenware dish and pour the marinade over it. Cover the dish with plastic film and let the sardines marinate in the fridge for a day or two. Bring to room temperature before serving. Garnish with lemon slices or a bay leaf.

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