Gamberi in Saor  (Venice) / Prawns with onions, raisins and pine nuts

July 26, 2020

I can still remember when I tasted this dish for the first time a few years ago, a traditional Venetian antipasto: sarde in saor (sardines in a sweet and sour sauce made with onions and white wine vinegar).

It’s The Dish that made me curious and wanting to learn more about Venetian cuisine.

Very often you can come across a variation of this dish with prawns instead of sardines or even langoustines for a more luxurious experience.

During colder months the marinade is enriched by some raisins and pine nuts, which is my favourite way of having it, at all times.

*For a slightly sharper and more profound flavour, traditionally only vinegar is used.

The recipe below is slightly milder, but of course, you can stay with the traditional one by using white wine vinegar only (use about 200-250ml of vinegar).

For 4-6 people as a starter:

  • 700 g of shelled and deveined prawns
  • 700 g of white onions
  • flour for dusting
  • 125 ml of white wine*
  • 125 ml of white wine vinegar
  • a handful of raisins
  • 20-30 g of pine nuts
  • olive oil for frying the onions
  • sunflower oil for deep frying of the prawns
  • salt
  • pepper

Peel and slice the onions into half-moons.

In a large pan heat 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil. Gently fry the onions on a low heat stirring occasionally. The onions shouldn’t gain any colour. Instead they should turn soft and sweet, which should take about 20-30 minutes,

Now pour in the vinegar and white wine into the pan. Add raisins, pine nuts, a pinch of salt and pepper. Give it a stir and gently cook until the liquid has almost evaporated.

In the meantime heat up sunflower oil for deep frying.

Dust with flour washed and pat dried prawns. Fry the prawns in batches (don’t overcrowd the pan or pot) for a few minutes, until they start to curl and turn lightly golden in colour. The frying time will vary depending on the size of the prawns, and it is always best to try one first. Make sure you don’t fry the prawns for too long, otherwise they will turn hard.

Take out the prawns using a slotted spoon and put them on a plate lined with a kitchen paper towel.

Once you have finished the procedure with all the batches, season the prawns with some salt.

In a dish (preferably a glass one) arrange one layer of the prawns and cover them with some  of the onion sauce.

Next arrange another layer of the prawns and again cover with the softened onions. Repeat until you’ve used all the ingredients.

Cover the dish with cling film and leave in the fridge for two days before serving. It’s the time needed for the flavours to permeate.

Gamberi in soar are best served slightly chilled.