An early morning trip to the Rialto fish market in Venice is always a treat. This morning, after coffee and a croissant at my favourite coffee bar in Venice, Torrefazione Cannaregio, I hopped across the Grand Canal at the Santa Sofia, traghetto (a traditional gondola ferryboat) and on to the fish market. I was in search of mazzancolle a type of king prawn in order to make one of the most Venetian of dishes, mazzancolle in saor.
Saor, which roughly means sour, is a traditional way of preserving fish, which probably goes back to ancient Roman times, when fish were salted and preserved in vinegar in large barrels. The Venetians then added pine nuts, and to give it a typically veneto-oriental feel, sultanas. Traditionally it’s made with sardines or prawns.
The recipe involves frying the prawns in oil, then draining and salting them. Onions are then cooked in the same oil and white wine vinegar added. The prawns and the onions are then placed in a glass container with pine nuts and sultanas and left for at least 24 hours before eating. You can find my recipe here for sardele in saor. Just substitute cleaned and peeled king prawns for the sardines.