Venetian Fish - Sfogi in Saor

3:10 pm on 14 October 2016

Venetian Fish - Sfogi in Saor

Serves 8

This recipe has made me more friends than any other fish dish I’ve cooked. Based on an old Venetian method of cooking and preserving fish, it’s a winner for entertaining because it is made several hours before serving. But it’s the flavour which really impresses the socks off all who try it.

1kg smallish skinned and boned white fish fillets

3 medium (size 6) free-range eggs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup milk

100ml olive oil

50g butter

1 onion, peeled and finely sliced or chopped

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

¼ cup pine nuts

¼ cup raisins, soaked for 10 minutes in boiling water

2 bay leaves

¾ cup white wine vinegar

¾ cup cold water

2 Tbsp coarsely chopped parsley

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

125ml (½ cup) frying oil


1. Rinse the fish fillets, and pat them dry with paper towels. Cut each fillet into 2–3 pieces. Break eggs into a shallow dish, add a few pinches of salt and beat well with a fork. Beat in the milk, then drop in the pieces of fish. Stir gently to coat, then leave to soak for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Heat olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook gently, uncovered, until soft and transparent. Add pine nuts, drained raisins and bay leaf. Grind on some black pepper and cook for a further  2–3 minutes. Pour the white wine vinegar in, let it bubble away for a minute, then add the water and ¼ tsp salt. Cook gently for about 10 minutes, then stir in the parsley.

3. When the marinade is ready, prepare the fish. Put crumbs in a liquidizer and blend to a fine crumb, then tip them onto paper towels. Turn fish into a large colander set over a bowl and drain for 5 minutes. Drop fish pieces into the crumbs, one at a time, and pat on the crumbs.

4. When all the fish is prepared, heat most of the frying oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Drop several pieces of fish in and cook until golden. Turn carefully and cook the other side. Transfer to a large serving platter (don’t drain them). Continue frying fish, adding a little more oil if necessary (watch the heat; lower it a little to stop the crumbs from burning if necessary).

5. When all the fish fillets are done, spoon the marinade over, ensuring each piece of fish is anointed with some of the liquid. Leave to cool, then cover loosely with a ventilated cover. Leave for several hours before serving.



From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm

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